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Hauru no ugoku shiro (2004)
This movie was absolutely perfect. The animation, the voices, the acting. Everything.
Sophie is a girl who does things because she is expected to, not at all because she herself wishes to. When the Witch of the Waste turns her into a ninety year old woman, she immediately sets out to cure her curse. She chances upon Howl's moving castle, and after striking a deal with the fire demon Calcifer, she becomes the new cleaning lady. Fraught with adventure, wizardry politics (of a sort), and endearing romance this movie has everything.... I only wish it were longer. Or for several more just like it.
If you haven't read Diana Wynne Jones' perfect fantasy novel, you should, and read it before you watch this film (if you can wait that long). It will help you in understanding the movie to it's full extent. I was at first afraid that Miss Jones' novel would be turned into something wholly unrecognizable, and without any of her original humor. But Miyazaki captured all of her characters beautiful, and was able to make a great movie, without losing any of the characters' original charm.
My spoiler is for concerned parents, who might wish to know if anything could be considered objectionable for young viewers' eyes. I can name a few things at least. The battle scenes are not particularly horrendous or frightening, except for the black blobs that come after Sophie and the other characters. There are 'mad wizards' who have turned themselves into 'demons' for the war effort, and they attack Howl a few times. There is also a scene where Sophie has a vision/dream of Howl in a monster like form, and he has scary looking teeth. Madame Suliman is a strange 'head wizard' sort of person, who almost viciously destroys any wizards who stand in her own/or the war's way, and there is a scene in the film where she hypnotizes Howl and begins to turn him into a 'monster' so she can steal his magic and, as it appears this way, kill him. This scene in particular might be frightening for very young viewers.
***end of spoiler***
All in all, I did not find these things particularly frightening, and upon viewing the film yourselves, you might find it perfectly harmless. Nevertheless, I advice that you watch the film yourselves before showing it to your younger children. Older kids shouldn't have any problem with it at all.
This movie deserves more then ten stars. And I think the Oscars should give more awards to animated films then just Best Animated Film. They should start doing best Director of an Animated Film, best voice acting in an animated film (male and female naturally), and best animated film soundtrack. If they did that, more people then just California would tune in to watch.
All the voices were excellent, and the animation superb.
From start to finish I felt it was exactly what I had hoped for and wished it could be. Thank you Hayao Miyazaki-San for a truly great film.