Parents' Guide to

Howl's Moving Castle

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Charming Miyazaki fairy tale with surreal villains.

Movie PG 2005 119 minutes
Howl's Moving Castle Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 37 parent reviews

age 8+

Demon Explaination

*slight spoilers, non-plot related* At one point, Sophie says that if the one character is a demon, he's one of the good ones. While her choice of wording is confusing, I have to admit I'm not sure if there's a better one. The Japanese don't hold to a concept of demons as fallen angels - what we translate as demon is more like "supernatural monster/being". These monsters aren't inherently evil, and some are actively helpful. This could be an opportunity to talk to kids about different cultures, and how their beliefs shape their stories.
age 10+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (37 ):
Kids say (96 ):

Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's animation style is famously delicate and inventive, and this film is no exception. In Howl's Moving Castle, the jittery-edged images conjure lovely rhythms, often from children's perspectives that feature lots of low angles and dreamlike movements (see also Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind). At the same time, the film investigates, carefully rather than loudly and aggressively, what worries kids: Why do adults fight and go to war? How is love scary as well as thrilling and encouraging? The film's answers are complicated and incomplete, but, more importantly, its questions are provocative.

Keeping track of who's cursed whom and who's disguised as what can be confusing, but Howl's Moving Castle -- based on a book by Diana Wynne Jones -- pits two major forces against one another: the war-making king, aided by royal sorceress Madame Suliman (Haruko Kato/Blythe Danner), and the well-meaning but childishly petulant Howl. Sophie helps to sort out his problematic behavior, in part by forgiving and looking after everyone, including the conniving Witch of the Waste. Sophie's wisdom is a function of her kindness, but her unbidden transformation is also unnerving.

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