Howl's Moving Castle premiered at the Venice International Film Festival on September 5, 2004, and premiered in Toho cinemas in Japan
on November 20, 2004.
It is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by British writer Diana Wynne Jones and is about a young milliner named Sophie, who is transformed into an old woman by a witch, and the wizard Howl. It went on to gross ¥23.2 billion worldwide, making it one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history.
Credits - The Howl's Moving Castle Wiki
Sophie is an 18-year-old needlewoman who works in her family's hat shop. The movie begins by Sophie traveling to Cesari's cafe to visit her sister Lettie. During this trip she encounters a mysterious wizard (who unknown to Sophie at the time is Howl).
This angers the evil Witch of the Waste who later enters the hat shop and transforms Sophie into a 90-year-old woman. This curse prevents Sophie from telling anyone of her condition, so she leaves her home to search for a cure in the waste. Along the way, Sophie meets a scarecrow who she calls Turnip Head. It leads her to a mysterious moving castle and Sohpie enters.
Inside Sophie meets a cursed fire demon named Calcifer, stuck in the fireplace and the source of the castle. Calcifer and Sophie make a deal in which he will break Sophie's curse in exchange for Sophie breaking his curse. Sophie also meets a young apprentice named Markl. At this point in time, Howl the wizard enters the house, Sophie realizing that it was his castle/house, she announces she is the new cleaning lady.
"Meanwhile, In Sophie's home country of Ingary, the beginning of a war has sparked against another neighboring town - following the disappearance of the other realm's Crown Prince. Slowly the war begins to creep into Sophie's country itself. Howl receives summons from the King, who orders his various assumed identities to fight in the war. However, Howl cowers in his bedroom and comes up with an idea to send Sophie to pose as his mother, announcing that he would be useless." During her trip she meets a dog named Heen (who she believes is Howl undercover) and the Witch of the Waste, riding on her palaquin carried by two blob men.
Once they enter the castle Sophie is lead to the greenhouse while the Witch of the Waste finds a place to sit only to have her magical powers drained by Madame Suliman, the court sorceress, as punishment. This turns her into a magic-less old women with very little memories.
As for Sophie, she is protesting with Suliman about Howl's contribution in which the Witch's spell temporarily weakens from the love in her words, causing Sophie to briefly change into her younger self. Suliman realizes Sophie's true relation to Howl but is interrupted by Howl's arrival. Suliman tries to trap Howl but he turns into his monstrous form and escapes with Sophie's help. Howl uses himself as a distraction to for Sophie and the Witch of the Waste to return to the castle and gives her a magic ring to guide her back safetly
Once they all get back safely Howl transforms a part of the castles into Sophie's old home by the hat shop, and shows her a secret garden he used to stay in his childhood. Sophie's mother Honey shows up under Suliman's control and leaves behind a bag containing a "peeping bug" under her orders. The former Witch of the Waste discovers it and promptly destroys the bug by tossing it into Calcifer who gets sick, rendering him unable to conceal the castle.
"A few hours later, the city is carpet-bombed by enemy aircraft while Suliman's Blob men invade the hat shop. After arriving just in time to protect the shop from the bombing, Howl draws the guards away after healing Calcifer. He tells Sophie he is not going to run away anymore because he has something he wants to protect before leaving to interfere with the war. Deducing that Howl must be saved, Sophie moves everyone out of the castle and removes Calcifer from the fireplace, destroying the castle. She offers Calcifer some of her braided hair to give him enough strength to power a portion of the castle. They head toward Howl when the former Witch of the Waste discovers Howl's heart within Calcifer. Sophie pours water on Calcifer to make her let go of the heart, making Calcifer lose his power. The segment of the castle splits, and she and Heen fall down a chasm."
Using her magic ring, Sophie makes her way toward Howl's heart, and enters through the door into Howl's childhood. She then sees Howl and Calcifer meet: Howl eats Calcifer, who gains his heart. Sophie finds Howl, having now lost his human consciousness in bird form. They head back to the group, and Sophie asks the Witch for Howl's heart. She gives it to her and places the heart back in Howl, resurrecting him and freeing Calcifer. She kisses the scarecrow who reveals that he is actually the missing prince. Heen shows the scene of their happy end to Suliman, and the war is finally over. Howl, Sophie, and the others return home from the end of the war, flying high above the bomber planes in a moving house.
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