The basic story is this: 18-year-old Sophie is a hatter who believes she is an ordinary nobody. But when the witch of the waste curses her to be trapped in the form of a 90-year-old woman, Sophie must go on a grand adventure to find a way to break the curse. Along the way she meets a strange cast of characters including the living scarecrow affectionately dubbed "Turnip Head", a wisecracking fire demon, and a mysterious and tragic wizard named Howl.
Fans of the book will realize right away that Miyazaki takes great liberties with the source material. While I found this fine, (as the film weaves the tale in a splendid fashion) I did wish that perhaps he had titled the movie differently and added "Based on Howls Moving Castle" as the film is more a taking of the IDEA of the book and using it to form a story, than a faithful adaptation of the novel. However, the changes Miyazaki makes works for the film brilliantly, and I have found I like the movie and the book equally.
A tale full of magic, romance, excitement, and wonder, this is a highly recommended film for lovers of fairy tales and mythology, as well as Miyazaki fans. It will engage both young and the young at heart.