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!