Howl’s Moving Castle 2004

Howl’s Moving Castle is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli and based on Diana Wynne Jones’ novel of the same name.

Mamoru Hosoda, director of two seasons and one movie from the Digimon series, was originally selected to direct but abruptly left the project, leaving the then retired Miyazaki to take up the director’s role. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2004 and was released in Japanese theaters on November 20, 2004.

It went on to gross $231,710,455 worldwide, making it one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The film was subsequently dubbed into English by Pixar’s Peter Docter and distributed in North America by Walt Disney Pictures. It received a limited release in the United States and Canada beginning June 10, 2005 and was released nationwide in Australia on September 22 and in the UK the following September.

Plot: Eighteen-year-old Sophie, who runs her late father’s hat shop, has a chance encounter with the mysterious wizard Howl who takes a liking to her. The meeting attracts the attention of the Witch of the Waste, who has been seeking Howl’s love for her own, and the Witch places a curse on Sophie, turning her into a 90-year-old woman with the inability to tell anyone about the curse. Sophie decides to seek out Howl in the Wastes, encountering and befriending an animated scarecrow she names Turnip Head. They eventually come across Howl’s moving castle; inside, Sophie is greeted by the fire demon Calcifer that powers the castle and recognizes that Sophie has been cursed. Calcifer offers to break the curse in exchange if Sophie can break the bond between Howl and Calcifer. When Howl arrives, Sophie claims that she is the castle’s new cleaning lady. As Sophie adjusts to life in the castle, she discovers that the front door is a magic portal that leads to several destinations. She also comes to learn that Howl is vain and immature, and that the Witch of the Waste’s vengeful behavior was due to how Howl treated her in the past once he discovered her ugly appearance.
* Osella Awards for Technical Achievement; 61st Venice Film Festival
* Best Japanese Movie Overall; 2004 Mainichi Film Awards
* Excellence Prize, Animation; 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival
* Animation of the Year; 2005 Tokyo International Anime Fair
* Best Director (Hayao Miyazaki); 2005 Tokyo Anime Awards
* Best Voice Actor/Actress (Chieko Baisho); 2005 Tokyo Anime Awards
* Best Music (Joe Hisaishi); 2005 Tokyo Anime Awards
* Audience Award; 2005 Maui Film Festival
* 1st Runner Up, Golden Space Needle Award; 2005 Seattle International Film Festival
* Nomination, Best Animated Feature; 78th Academy Awards

Watch Howl’s Moving Castle 2004 Trailer