Monday, December 17, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Howl's Moving Castle Book Vs. Movie SPOILERS

I haven't posted on Bookish Thoughts in a long time, so I finally have something new to talk about. I recently reviewed the Audiobook of Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Recently we watched the Studio Ghibli adaptation, so I wanted to put together a Bookish Thoughts to discuss the differences and how I feel about them. There will definitely be spoilers ahead, so be forewarned!

Read on if you don't mind SPOILERS!

I really enjoyed the book, but I also really enjoyed the movie, even though I do think the movie adaptation varies a lot from the actual text. Even so, I think at the core it keeps the main plot and focus of the story together so I wasn't that bothered by some of the changes. Not everyone will agree with me, because it does feel like it is very different, but I liked both of them.

Changes I liked:

  • Howl is less of jerk
  • the attraction between Howl & Sophie is more pronounced
  • Calcifer makes the castle "walk" and the look of the castle in general
In the book, Howl is kind of a jerk! He keeps on meeting women, making them fall in love with him, and then he ghosts them. I think I might have missed it why he does that, but he is kind of a jerk. I do like that in the book Sophie's sister Lettie knows this and kind of just takes advantage of him too so she can learn magic from him.

In the book, I didn't get that big of a feel from Howl and Sophie that they attracted to each other. In the movie it opens with them meeting and Howl flirts shamelessly with her. So when old Sophie shows up in his castle, he already knows who she is and later in the book we can see he really cares for her. As a bonus, we see scene where when she is asleep he can see her for who she really is and you can see the attraction he has to her there. I didn't really get that big of this feeling from Howl in the book. So I think by showing us this, the movie did do this a little better. 

In both versions, Calcifer is what makes the Castle move, but in the book the Castle is described as this big tall tower of a thing that teleports from place to place. In the movie, it's this crazy castle of things on top of each other and it walks around on metal chicken legs! I love the visual of the movie so much, so I was totally okay with this change. 

Changes I didn't like:
  • Sophie's sisters subplot is non-existent
  • Sophie's magic ability
  • Howl's home is in Wales!
  • Anti-War Message
In the book, it goes into detail early on why Sophie is working in the hat shop. She is the eldest so it is known that she will be the one to take over, whereas her sister Lettie is apprenticed to a bakery, and Martha to a witch to learn magic. Only, Martha and Lettie don't want to do that, so they find a spell to switch places. It's such an interesting subplot because later in the book Howl is romancing Lettie, but his apprentice Michael is also romancing Lettie. Turns out it's different Letties, but it's such a cool subplot. In the movie Lettie from the Bakery is there for a hot minute early on. Sophie's family was so important to her that I was bummed this was left out.

In the book it's really clear that Sophie also has magic, it's why she is able to save the day at the end and it's also why her hats sold so well. In the movie, I think you could also argue that it's showing she has magic, but I don't think it's as clear. It does certainly explain why Calcifer lets her bully him around, but at the same time they have that deal, so maybe he's just appeasing her.

Another thing, that I think was changed because the movie is done by a company in Japan and they wanted it to appear like not a specific place, is that Howl's home of Wales is not in the movie. In the book all the different doors go to different dimensions and one of those is his home world of Wales, where he has a sister who has children. She is completely not in the movie at all. I was kind of bummed about that because we get to see a different side of Howl when he is in his homeland.

In this movie there is this backdrop on the plot that there is a terrible war going on. The king is making all the wizards help, but Howl doesn't want to fight because all the Wizards are turning into monsters. There are a lot of visuals about bombing, which made it feel like a very big political statement about what was done to Japan during World War II. It's an interesting thing to include, especially since I'm getting the metaphor that war only turns men into monsters. This was DEFINITELY not in the book. It's not so much that I didn't like this addition, it just felt out of place in this whimsical fantasy story. Feel free to argue with me on this one.

There are a couple other changes from the book to the movie, but I felt indifferent to them, or didn't mind them enough that I didn't feel like it made sense to include them in this discussion. Even though the movie feels SO different from the book, I still really enjoyed both. What did you think? Were there some of the changes too much for you?

You can grab the book or the movie using my affiliate link from amazon below:

Happy Reads Everyone!