Howl's Moving Castle

From Academic Kids

Howl's Moving Castle is a fantasy novel for young adults by British author Diana Wynne Jones.



Missing image
Press Image of first poster for the animated film adaptation.

The novel is about a young woman called Sophie Hatter, who is the oldest of three daughters in the magical kingdom of Ingary, where many fairy-tale tropes are accepted ways of life. Resigned to the "fact" that the middle sister is the beautiful one and the youngest the talented one, Sophie steels herself for a dull life running the family hat shop--until she is turned into an old crone by the Witch of the Waste, a powerful witch whom she inadvertently offends, and finds work as a housekeeper for the notorious Wizard Howl (who is said to collect the hearts of beautiful young women).

Sophie soon learns that Howl, a cavalier but good-hearted playboy, spread malicious rumours about to ensure his privacy. His castle actually exists simultaneously in four different places and with four different appearances: the moving castle Sophie first comes upon, Howl's boyhood home in Wales (Wizard Howl's real name is Howell Jenkins), the seaside city where Howl sells his services and the royal capital.

Missing image
Calcifer and Sophie.

Sophie strikes a bargain with Howl's resident fire demon, Calcifer: if Sophie can break the contract Howl and Calcifer have signed, then Calcifer will turn Sophie back into her original form. Part of the contract, however, stipulates that neither Howl nor Calcifer can disclose the terms of the contract to any third party; Sophie, therefore, has to guess what the contract is.

Howl's apprentice Michael runs most of the day-to-day affairs of Howl's business, while Howl chases his latest crushes; both Howl and Michael begin to court Sophie's sister Lettie, but Michael's Lettie turns out to be Sophie's sister Martha, magically disguised to look like Lettie.

When Wizard Suliman (Benjamin Sullivan, also Welsh) goes missing whilst in search of the prodigal Prince Justin, the king orders Howl to find Suliman and Justin and kill the Witch of the Waste. Howl attempts to weasel out of it by having Sophie, pretending to be his mother, petition against the appointment, but to no avail. Howl, however, has his own reasons for seeking a confrontation with the Witch of the Waste; the witch, a jaded former lover, has laid a curse on him (and kills his teacher).

Howl fights the Witch of the Waste, feigning reluctance to do so, and wins. Sophie turns out to be a witch and marries Howl; Lettie, also a witch, marries Suliman, and Sophie manages to guess and break Calcifer's contract.

Castle in the Air

There is an Arabian Nights-themed sequel titled Castle in the Air. The protagonist is a young carpet merchant named Abdullah who is destined to marry a princess named Flower-in-the-Night, recently kidnapped by a powerful djinn; Sophie and other characters from the first book appear in a limited capacity. Castle in the Air is not to be confused with the animated Miyazaki movie titled Castle in the Sky.

Studio Ghibli film

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Concept art for the film's moving castle, which walks about on mechanical legs.

An anime film based on the first novel, Hauru no ugoku shiro (ハウルの動く城), was directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. 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.

Diana Wynne Jones did meet with representatives from Studio Ghibli but did not have any input or involvement in the production of the film. She's quoted as saying, "It's fantastic. No, I have no input - I write books, not films. Yes it will be different from the book - in fact it's likely to be very different, but that's as it should be. It will still be a fantastic film." Miyazaki travelled to England in summer 2004 to give Wynne Jones a private viewing of the finished movie.

The animated film was released to cinemas in Japan on November 20, 2004. The film has also been dubbed into English and is being distributed in North America by Walt Disney Pictures. The film began showing in select cinemas around the United States and Canada on June 17, 2005.

Staff credits


  • Best Japanese Movie Overall; 2004 Mainichi Film Awards

See also

External links

fr:Le Chteau ambulant it:Il castello errante di Howl ja:ハウルの動く城 zh:哈尔移动城堡


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