I wanted to compare my newly-acquired series of hi-res photos from Howl's Moving Castle (the theatrical release), and I wanted to compare them against the DVD, and wouldn't ya know it, I stay up all night to watch the movie.
I only watch Howl on rare occasions. I think it's a spectacular movie, and I don't to spoil it by becoming too familiar with it. You never want to lose your sense of wonder and awe. You especially don't want to feel numb to the emotionally-charged scenes between Sophie and Howl. I never want to lose my sense of outrage against useless wars waged for no useful reason. And I never want to lose the impact of that climactic flashback at the end, a masterstroke of personal filmmaking.
I absolutely love this movie because it is so densely packed; how many storylines are woven into one another? This is the one film that captures the sprawling epic scale Miyazaki brought to his Nausicaa manga. There are so many moments of brilliance that I almost always lose count. Joe Hisaishi's superb Staussian Waltzes certainly help; his musical score reminds me of Stanley Kubrick more than anything. And the lush, boundless colors are breathtaking. I could probably write essays on every scene in the movie.
Howl is surely the least-accessable of Miyazaki's Ghibli movies. You have to know about the man, and his work. You have to have seen most everything. You have to have read the Nausicaa books. It might even help if you're familiar with Kubrick and Fellini. Major bonus points if you recognize the name Akemi Ota. How else would you discover that she's the heroine of this film? She's always been the Heroine, in a certain sense.
Anyway, I'm rambling on and it's getting late. Enjoy the screenshots from the Howl's Moving Castle DVD. Someone mentioned to me recently that the colors on the Ghibli DVDs are a little faded when compared to the films, and I have to agree. But that's a consequence of compressing a feature-length movie onto such a tiny disc. I am hopeful that the Blu-Ray will retain the spectacular color saturation. If the upcoming Ponyo Blu-Ray is any indication, I'd say that's very doable.