Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
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Howl makes a bargain with Calcifer in the flashback scene. Calcifer gains Howl's heart but is bound to serve Howl (heating water, moving the castle, etc). The problem with the deal is it strips Calcifer of his freedom and leaves Howl heartless (in the emotional sense as well as physically).
In the book, it explains that Howl gave Calcifer his heart to prevent him from dying upon landing. It's also present in the film - in the last part of the film when Sophie crashes from the castle and the ring leads her towards Howl's garden. That moment is the flashback to Howl's past. Edit (Coming Soon)
Not really. She met with representatives from Studio Ghibli but did not have any input or involvement in the production of the film.
She's quoted in this USENET posting 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."
The following comes from someone who attended a private screening of the film in Bristol:
She enjoyed it a great deal and she particularly recommends anyone who sees it to watch out for the falling stars, which she says are "out of this world, literally and figuratively". Although it doesn't follow the plot of the book exactly nor have quite the same characterisation, and includes things that are definitely not in the original text, she didn't come away feeling unhappy with what has been done with her work.
At the meal, she and Miyazaki talked with each other so much that the poor girl interpreting for them didn't get a bite to eat, and DWJ was quite worried for her (but she was able to hand over to another interpreter after a while and did get some food in the end). He seems to be a great fan of the Dalemark books in particular, and his understanding of them and his views about them impressed DWJ a lot. Edit (Coming Soon)
She "unlinked" the castle from the hat shop so that Howl would not continue to put himself in danger protecting the shop from the bombing. Lacking the magical knowledge which allowed Howl to "move house" with precision earlier, she settles for the ad-hoc solution of destroying the entire setup. Needing to set the castle going again so that she can rescue Howl, she makes her own bargain with Calcifer (giving him her braid), offering him just enough power to run a smaller version of the castle. Edit (Coming Soon)
In the novel the movie is based on, Howl's name is revealed to actually be Howell Jenkins. Howell is really from present-day Wales, and, using his magic, is able to cross over to the fantastical world where the bulk of the story takes place. (This is the source of the "Wizard Jenkins" name.) Edit (Coming Soon)
In the novel, it is ultimately revealed that Howl could see through Sophie's curse all along. He always knew she was really eighteen. It is a possibility that the brief moments in the film in which Sophie is seen as a young woman are not real; rather, they are what Howl sees when he looks at her.
It is also revealed at the end of the novel that Sophie is a talented witch, and that Howl had lifted--or attempted to lift--her curse much earlier, but that she wouldn't let him; she was unconsciously keeping herself old. Sophie felt safe as an old lady, and free to speak her mind--she was essentially more herself as an elderly woman than as a young one. It is thus possible that, in the film, when Sophie occasionally returns to a young woman in Howl's presence, it is because she has unconsciously loosened her grip on the curse: she feels like herself around Howl, and she lets her guard down. Once she begins feeling uncomfortable or afraid again (such as in the meadow scene, when he tells her she's beautiful), she becomes old once more.
As for her hair color--at the end of the novel, Sophie's hair returns to its natural auburn color. The reason her hair remains gray or "starlight" colored in the film is never disclosed; however, it is possible that the filmmakers intended it to be a mark of the wisdom she's gained. Another theory is that even though the curse is gone, the gray hair is like a 'scar' left behind.
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