Hayao Miyazaki is an absolute genius, I’m sure of it. His films are just the most beautiful creations – great, epic works of fantasy fiction that have a deeper, more encompassing appeal than almost anything else that springs to mind. I watched Howl’s Moving Castle with a friend tonight. It’s maybe the third time I’ve seen it. I’m still not sure it beats Spirited Away, but it remains the most magical film, easily towards the pinnacle of Miyazaki’s already impressive filmography.
The backdrop of the war is just astonishing. It’s never explained in any detail; it’s just a circumstance in which these characters are living, in this Eastern-Western hybrid world where wizards and witches dot the land, working for both good and evil. The design of the battleships is phenomenal. The design of Howl’s castle is even better: a big, stomping, mechanical beast of a building, that chugs along on spindly legs, a giant tongue stretching out of its front as a makeshift ramp.
The attention to detail is just staggering. The simplicity and subtlety of the storytelling is beautiful. It’s as rich, engaging and soul-warming as any cinema comes. Glorious.