I chose to watch another Hayao Miyazaki film to revamp week 5’s commentary so I watched Howl’s Moving Castle. A story about a young girl who finds herself mixed up with the strongest witches and wizards in her universe. She is put under a spell by the Witch of the Waste and becomes an old woman. She leaves unable to tell her family of her changes and takes residence inside Howl’s, a powerful wizard burdened by a fire demon, Moving Castle. She makes a deal with the fire demon that if she frees him he will reverse her curse. Through the novel she falls in love with Howl, helps him face his old teacher, and in the end frees him and herself of their curses.
Although there was some commentary on women’s role in things it is not the main point of this magical tale. This tale is a commentary on love, beauty, what meets the eye, and it is very heavy commentary on war. The war is obviously looked down upon in the film. It is shown that the King has instituted a drafted all the wizards to fight in a meaningless war. There is a obvious message with pollution but the most destructive part of all is war is the battles going on in the air and on the land. You see it destroy both Howl and Sophie’s childhood homes. Miyazaki’s message is directly related to his opinions on the post 9/11 US-led War on Terror, the 2003 Iraq war in particular. He stated his frustrations when he listened to the speech by US President George W. Bush who approached the world as such: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” (White House 2001) There are definitely representations of different characters and the war and Japan itself. You could say that Sophie and Howl and his moving castle are representative of Japan as a passive aware opposition to the war. The contrast to this is Japan’s desire for power and the chance that they could become a militarist state which could be represented in Calcifer. The obvious representation for the US is the King and Sulliman. The themes of love and peace are strongly advocated through out this film, not only through that anti-war message but the war we see go on between Sophie and herself over accepting her new age; between Sophie and Howl over his curse; and between Howl and Calicfer (aka his heart) and deciding if he will remain one with the demon or free himself. A quote from Chogyam Trungpa that represents the essence of this movie to me: “Real fearlessness is the product of our tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your raw and beautiful heart." Once Howl abandoned his fear and found love in Sophie he was able to do what he’d been going after all along: achieve peace.