I finally ventured into Diana Wynne Jones after finding out Hayao Miyazaki did an animated adaptation to one of her books, Howl's Moving Castle. This happens a lot, I would read a book just because it's being adapted to the big screen which is also the one and only reason why I read The Da Vinci Code. Darn it, if they didn't think of making it into a movie, I'd still won't touch that book with a 50-feet pole.
The first rule of comparing one form of art with another is to evaluate it at its original form, in this case the book. I read the book last month. It's pretty short and not really my cup of tea. But I like some parts of it. I love the idea of a moving castle having the efficiency of going to four different places with a turn of the knob. I like the characters like Sophie with her newfound spunk after being cursed, Howl the powerful wizard with his eccentric and diva-like personality, and Calcifer the living breathing fire devil with an attitude.
After finishing it I have the trouble accessing the movie. But a solution arrived in the form of another book.
The movie was adapted into a comic book in four parts. A practice also done for Spirited Away and My Cat Tortoro. However the downside of 'reading' the movie is that it's very slow. To date the forth part of the film comic series still haven't come out yet.
One day, a colleague saw me reading the film comic number 2 in the locker room (something that's frowned upon around here).
"Hey, have you seen the movie?" she asked.
"No, I don't know where to find it."
"They sell it at S&M."
S&M! Why didn't I think of that. I thought the vcd is not available yet. Aiya... so slow la nowadays...
But I was saved again when she said, "I have it, I can lend it to you." hehehe
This is the forth Miyazaki film that I have seen and I love them all. His animations are always simple but stunning, the story a bit formulaic (sweet innocent girl thrown into a strange world, ended up doing a great deed) yet still interesting. His visions always save the day. Check out the details from this scene in Howl's room.
I'm grateful that his visions played a big part in this adaptation. I love the way he depicts the moving castle, the dog, Calcifer and of course, Howl the man himself. I love the way he played around with Sophie's various stage of ageing to coincide with the way she feels at the time.
The movie is claimed to be 'loosely' based on the book but the first half of the story is still intact. He still maintains some parts that I personally like, like Calcifer's fiery personality and paranoia of being put out, Howl's diva-like persona (though a bit toned down in the movie), and Howl's sludge-attack. There are some cute factors in here as well. With Spirited Away it was the three heads and baby that was turned into a fly (or was it a mosquito) and the fat mouse. In Howl's Moving Castle you can get it by watching the dog. He was so cute trying to roll over at the top of the stairs with his short legs flailing trying to get some leverage. Kawai! And the Michael's voice is cute too.
I'm happy with the way the story folds out in the movie. I'm glad that Miyazaki chose to totally eradicate the love triangle, quadrangle or whatever angle that was featured in the book. Instead he chose to focus on the war and Howl's struggle to get out of it.
Conclusion: I prefer the movie than the book.