Howl's Moving Castle - DVD vs Blu-Ray

Howl's Moving Castle was a sensational movie on the big screen.  I watched it several times at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis, which boasts one of the largest screens in the Twin Cities, and was overwhelmed each and every time.  The DVD format, however, never really did this movie justice.  Pencil lines were too thick and bushy, colors too washed out, objects too pixelated.  Now Howl is available on Blu-Ray and it's a brilliant revelation once again.

I've done several of these comparison tests for the other Studio Ghibli Blu-Ray discs, each showing a dramatic improvement over DVD.  But I've never seen a leap of quality quite like this.  I'm stunned, and if my money wasn't so seriously tied up at the moment (a wife is far more important than a movie), I would already have my Japanese copy in tow.

Take a look at the above screenshots in close-up.  The clarity of BD is astonishing.  Color and contrast are far richer and more lifelike, yes; this is what we've come to expect from Ghibli.  But notice the added detail of the brushstrokes.  Notice the texture of the wood and metal.  Observe how horribly blurry the older DVD photo appears; it's quite difficult to detect any real texture at all.  Much of the grittiness of Howl's world is simply lost in a low-resolution haze.

I can only imagine this difference on a decent-sized screen, say, 42" or more.  This is the visual equivalent to having cotton pulled from your ears.  Now you can hear the full symphony!  Miyazaki's sweeping romanticism is on full display in warm, rich tones and sharp detail.  You can appreciate the Impressionish, painterly quality of this world as never before.  This sprawling mess of a romantic epic requires paint and brushstrokes and sweat.  It requires passion.

Feeling impatient for Disney to release Howl BD here in the States?  I know just how you feel.  That $80 import price is starting to look almost reasonable.  Some more amazing screenshots lie just below the fold.  Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

This shows that a Ghibli movie must be watched on a big screen and with Blu-ray quality.

For years I had the inferior Hong Kong DVDs with sometimes horrible yellow-lettered subs and ok picture quality.

Never did upgrade to the proper Optimum/UK DVDs. I hope Tales from Earthsea and Howl's Moving Castle will be released around june/july in UK.

It sucks how bad North America gets treated. I was hoping Disney stepped up their game with Nausicaa and Ponyo but nothing after that.

Unknown said...

Wonderful screenshots. I can't wait until they release it here in Europe - should be sometime around early summer if past releases are a guidance.

Mel said...

Wow the difference is quite stunning.... meaning I never realized the DVD looked this bad!

Ghibli said...

As I mentioned in another comment, I started with watching this BD at my usual 3 meter distance from a 65" TV and soon noticed that there were details, which I've never seen before, so I ended up moving closer and closer to the screen until I was barely 1,5 meters in front of it. The richness of the detail and the quality of the image is such as never seen in any other Ghibli film, not even the latest Miyazaki's work - Ponyo, it's just incredible. Don't wait for the European/American releases! Import it - it's worth the price and more.
What I discovered on the second watch-through of the BD is that I started pausing it almost every minute and just enjoying the still images, studying the texture. I feel that I might end up taking this BD apart for high resolution postcard prints or desktop wallpapers...

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