Howl's Moving Castle
Steampunk Wizard of Oz, set during the Great War.
The plot follows a sane hatter cursed by a witch to be an old woman. Just before that curse, she was approached by a wizard that wooed her into believing she, like her sister, could be successful in life. Ironically, being an old woman freed her from social obligations, and she ventures into nature looking for a way to reverse the spell.
In this fantasy version of Alsace-Lorraine, technology and cities represent war and destruction, while the witches and wizards live far away, on Arcadian meadows. Nothing new coming from Miyazaki, that explored the same themes in most of his films, particularly in Princess Mononoke.
She founds Howl’s moving castle, and from that point forward he enters his Bildungsroman. Even thought Sophie is the protagonist, she feels like a sideshow in all the conflicts she witnesses. She helps Howl turning from a guy that enters profound depression after washing his hair wrong into someone who sacrifices himself for others and single-handedly solves the war between the two neighbour nations, but all this feels like part of the job of being a 90 years old crone.
Her personal achievements are reverting the curse and keep taking care of same witch that lead her through such trials.
This is not Ghibli’s finest hour, but it’s still very much worth to watch. The plot lacks internal cohesion, but you can still get awed by the visuals, music and voice acting.
The moving castle itself is a hodgepodge of rubbish and other refuse animated by Calcifer into a vehicle that wouldn’t look out of place in Machinarium. It made me want to play Valkyria Chronicles.