How can I possibly choose which screenshots to use from Howl's Moving Castle? The movie is so lush, so beautiful, its story so deep and complex. This is one film that requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate. It also requires you have a great knowledge of Miyazaki's long career, which is probably why so many American movie critics were left puzzled. They were expecting another Disney fairy tale. But this is not a Disney movie; it's a Fellini movie. This is Miyazaki's Juliet of the Spirits.
Why Westerners continue to see Hayao Miyazaki through the Walt Disney prism is a bit puzzling to me. Observe how his movies are always described as Japanese versions of Western fairy tales. Howl becomes "Beauty and the Beast." Spirited Away becomes "Alice in Wonderland." Ponyo becomes "The Little Mermaid." Very strange. These movies share only the most superficial connections, and this says far more about American stereotypes of animation than anything else. If the medium is ever to expand beyond its current infantile ghetto, this mindset will have to change.