Saturday, July 09, 2005

Howl's Moving Castle

The book by Diana Wynne Jones is an excellent, complex fantasy for (I guess) adolescents and adults, with fully-drawn characters, a clever plot, graceful and nimble prose and dialogue, many colorful and stirrring episodes, and an appearance by a poem by John Donne.

The movie by Miyazaki is, well, I enjoyed a lot of it, especially the parts without Billy Crystal. The castle itself is marvelous, and the women's roles are blessed with talented actresses's voices. But after about ten magical minutes the movie loses its way. Mrs. R. was alternately bored and incensed by the liberties taken in the screenplay, which makes no sense. The last few minutes are incomprehensible, even for those who have read the book (which ends with a series of fascinating revelations), and completely fail to explain what had gone before. Rent _Spirited Away_ instead - that's a deeply successful film.


Blogger Dave said...

Here is my comment.

9/7/05 23:29  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Pithier than mine...

9/7/05 23:38  
Anonymous kenB said...

I haven't seen Howl's Moving Castle (in fact I hadn't heard of it until I read your post), but personally I prefer My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away and his other post-Totoro movies (although I still enjoyed them). His (IMO) incredible skill at rendering very realistic children in their natural habitat is more hidden the more fantastic the setting; in Totoro the fantasy was gently blended with the real world, whereas in Spirited Away there's an explicit border between the real and the fantastic, and the one doesn't much intrude on the other.

My favorite bit in SA was probably the very beginning, where the heroine is bored and whiny in the car -- it was uncannily similar to my daughter's behavior (a fact that I pointed out while we were watching it together; needless to say she didn't much appreciate my observation).

12/7/05 19:49  
Blogger rilkefan said...

The DVD of _Spirited Away_ has the storyboards Miyazaki drew - I watched the car segment boards and found the degree to which the movie reflects his original vision quite interesting.

We watched _Kiki's Delivery Service_ recently and Mrs. R. found it horribly slow. So after this film I don't think it'll be easy for me to get her to watch any more of his work. Guess I'll go rent _Totoro_ some day when she's travelling.

12/7/05 19:57  
Anonymous kenB said...

Well, YMMV. Totoro was a completely unexpected pleasure for us -- I picked it up not knowing anything about it, and it totally blew me away, because (a) the story was not only charming but also much different than the typical cookie-cutter children's movie; and (b) the little sister in the film was about the same age as my daughter at the time, and once again, the similarities were just amazing.

But since (a) your first Miyazaki movie was Spirited Away, (b) you'll now be expecting much more from Totoro than I was, and (c) you probably don't have a daughter in that age bracket (?), you may well not enjoy it as much as we did. I don't remember it dragging at all, but it's not as fast-moving as SA, which presents you with fresh mysteries in nearly every scene.

12/7/05 20:17  

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