Howl’s Moving Castle is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is loosely based on the 1986 novel of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The film was produced by Toshio Suzuki, animated by Studio Ghibli, and distributed by Toho. The Japanese voice cast featured Chieko Baisho and Takuya Kimura, while the English dubbed version starred Jean Simmons, Emily Mortimer, Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale, Josh Hutcherson and Billy Crystal.
The story takes place in a fictional kingdom where both magic and technology from the early 20th century prevail, in the context of a war with another kingdom. The film tells the story of a happy young milliner named Sophie who is turned into an old woman by a witch who walks into her shop and curses her. She meets a wizard named Howl and is caught up in his resistance to fighting for the king.
Influenced by Miyazaki’s opposition to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the film contains strong anti-war themes. Miyazaki stated that he was “very angry” about the Iraq war, which led him to make a film that, in his opinion, would be poorly received in the United States.  He also explores the theme of old age, positively describing age as something that gives the protagonist freedom. The film also contains feminist elements and conveys messages about the value of compassion.
In 2013, Miyazaki called the movie his favorite creation, explaining that he “wanted to convey the message that life is worth living and I don’t think that has changed.” The movie is significantly different thematically from the book; While the book focuses on challenging gender and class norms, the film focuses on love, personal loyalty, and the destructive effects of war.