Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle: Book vs. Movie
While I was at the aforementioned conference in Rhode Island, I found myself with a bit more time to read than I had anticipated. (The convention center was attached to a mall. Vendor's hall business was, to put it mildly, slow.) After having read the two books I brought with me, and cursing myself for not bringing the third because the second one ended on a really annoying cliffhanger, I went over to the mall myself and replenished my print addiction aid supply. I ended up getting Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle. As you may recall, I'm a Miyazaki fan, but when I saw his adaptation of Howl, I was left feeling like I was missing something.

As it turns out, there was a huge amount of the plot of the book that got left out of the movie. The essential plot was still there, certainly, and I understand why Miyazaki left out the parts that he did, as they would have required a lot more explanation and screen time, but having now read those parts, it explains why the movie seemed to skip in some places, mostly when dealing with Sophie's life.

The other interesting thing is the way Miyazaki changed the character of Howl and his plotline. The book adds a lot more explanation of why Howl is running away all the time, and I think the movie does away altogether with the idea that he was supposed to be tracking down the king's brother, but the movie made his character a lot more vivid. In the book, he's just kind of shallow and disorganized, but in the movie, his magic, when he does choose to use it, is much more interesting and impressive. (There's nothing about turning into a bird in the book.) Somehow, this also makes the love story between Sophie and Howl more plausible. In the movie, it was easier to see how such a thing might happen. In the book, they snipe at each other the whole time, and then suddenly, Sophie's curse is broken, she's young again, and she and Howl are in love, all on the last page and for not much of a reason that I could see.

I want to see the movie again now, so I can compare them more clearly, but I thought all the changes that seemed to happen to the magic, the characters, and the love story when they went from a British to a Japanese interpretation were interesting.

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