Howl's Moving Castle

Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall, Emily Mortimer, Billy Crystal

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
June 9, 2005

Christian Bale adds another notch to his Batman Begins acting crown this summer. Bale does the voice of Howl, a young wizard who grows wings to save young Sophie (Emily Mortimer) from the lewd attentions of soldiers in an early scene from Howl's Moving Castle, the latest animated triumph from Hayao Miyazaki. The film has already made a cool $210 million outside the United States, where it's now being released in an English-language version. Before the purists holler, let me say that the dubbing was done under the guidance of Pixar's Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.), and the result is pure pleasure. Lauren Bacall lends her throaty sass to the obese wicked Witch of the Waste; Jean Simmons does the voice of Sophie when the witch turns her into an old hag, who still loves Howl; and Billy Crystal is comic energy unleashed as Calcifer, the fire demon who keeps the castle moving.

But even superior voice work can't top the luminous images that Miyazaki lavishes on this film. Howl's castle is full of doors, each one opening onto a new world. Miyazaki won an Oscar for 2001's Spirited Away. He should clear space for more gold. There's a word for the kind of comic, dramatic, romantic, transporting visions Miyazaki achieves in Howl's: bliss.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    • Child of God
      star rating
      Well Go USA Entertainment
    • lucy
      star rating
      Universal Pictures
    • star rating
      IFC Films
    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “San Francisco Mabel Joy”

    Mickey Newbury | 1969

    A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

    More Song Stories entries »