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Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle (ハウルの動く城 Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli and loosely based on Diana Wynne Jones' novel of the same name. Mamoru Hosoda, director of one episode and two movies from the Digimon series, was originally selected to direct but abruptly left the project, leaving the then-retired Miyazaki to take up the director's role.
The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2004 and was released in Japanese theaters on November 20, 2004. It went on to gross $231.7 million worldwide, making it one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The film was subsequently dubbed into English by Pixar's Peter Docter and distributed in North America by Walt Disney Pictures. It received a limited release in the United States and Canada beginning June 10, 2005 and was released nationwide in Australia on September 22 and in the UK the following September. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.
Wynne Jones's novel allows Miyazaki to combine a plucky young woman and a mother figure into a single character in the heroine, Sophie. She starts out as an 18-year-old hat maker, but then a witch's curse transforms her into a 90-year-old gray head. Sophie is horrified by the change at first. Nevertheless she learns to embrace it as a liberation from anxiety, fear and self-consciousness. The change might be a blessed chance for adventure.
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