Howl's Moving Castle

  • U
  • Hayao Miyazaki (2004)
  • Jpn
  • 114 min
Howl's Moving Castle
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

The incredible imagination of Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki runs wild once again in this delightful animated adventure. Based on the 1986 novel by Diana Wynne Jones, it's a retro-futuristic fantasy set in a magical, war-torn land reminiscent of 19th-century Europe. This English-language version is beautifully voiced, with Christian Bale's seductive tones bringing vivid life to the vain young wizard Howl, whose romancing of 18-year-old milliner Sophie (Emily Mortimer) results in her transformation into a pensioner by the jealous Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall). The events that follow are both visually ingenious and dazzling, as Old Sophie (Jean Simmons) journeys to reclaim her youth, only to find employment in Howl's enchanted walking castle. But the meticulous eye candy comes at the expense of proper plot development, with the rushed final third, in which Howl is forced into battle, and an overly surreal conclusion likely to be particularly confusing for children.

Plot Summary

Animated fantasy from the director of Spirited Away, featuring the voices of Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Billy Crystal and Jean Simmons. In a magical war-torn land, 18-year-old milliner Sophie loses her heart to the vain young wizard Howl, only to be turned into an old woman by a jealous witch. Setting out to reclaim her youth, the pensioner travels into the desolate Wasteland, eventually finding refuge and employment in Howl's mysterious walking castle.

Cast and crew


Christian Bale
Witch of the Waste
Lauren Bacall
Young Sophie
Emily Mortimer
Madam Suliman
Blythe Danner
Old Sophie
Jean Simmons
Billy Crystal
Josh Hutcherson


Hayao Miyazaki

Other Information

English / Japanese
Theatrical distributor: 
Optimum Releasing
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 23 Sep 2005
Certificate U