Thursday, April 14, 2011

movie vs. book smackdown: for once, it's a tie.

Wow, so, who's been a bad blogger? *shyly raises hand*

Over a week ago, I promised that I would talk about the differences between Howl's Moving Castle as a book and as a movie. And, to be honest, the idea has been daunting me since I promised it (I've also been traveling and working the whole time, so, you know). The truth is... I'm flummoxed.* I rarely experience this, where I love both the original book, and the movie that was spawned from it, equally, but for vastly different reasons. Because, no, they are not the same. I was surprised at some of the things I discovered in the book that weren't used in the classic, sweeping, gorgeous Miyazaki film, which has been a favorite of mine for years. Maybe that's the cure: fall in love with the movie before you're even aware the book exists.

I'm going to try to shed some light on the differences, here, but it might get a tad spoilery. If you'd rather find out for yourself, I completely understand. But some things were very interesting, and it would be a shame not to work through them.

If you love the movie, like I do, here are some things you might wish were in the book, but aren't:
> Howl as a war hero/shapeshifter. I know! I thought this was so integral to his character. Turns out, in the book, Howl is even sillier, and even more interested in flirting. If you can believe that. He still proves himself in the end, though, so don't worry.
> Sophie's early feelings for Howl. It is very thickly cloaked in the book. Also, there are no lucid moments where she is young-ish again, like in the movie. I missed that so much.
> The ENTIRE dynamic with The Witch of the Waste. I was on pins and needles reading the book, waiting for some insight into how that relationship came about in the movie, but it never happened.
I miss you so much, dream sequence.
> The end, with Sophie's hair and the pail of water and the cliffside and the scarecrow and all that. Most of the same basic things happened (minus Sophie feeding Calcifer her hair, which made me so sad, it being one of my favorite parts of the movie), but it was, I don't know. Lighter. Like the end of a Shakespeare comedy.
> The dream sequence with the tunnel and the trinkets and Howl and black feathers... oh. I was so sad that this wasn't in the book.

If you love the book (also like I do), here are some things you might wish Miyazaki had left alone:
> Sohpie's sisters. There's only Lettie, and she isn't the most integral of characters. There's not any indication that she's even met Howl! Or Michael! Oh, right, because...
> Michael Fisher. Oh, I know. What a little charmer. He may have been my favorite character in the book, but in the movie, he's... not the same at all. Somehow,  Howl's 15-year-old apprentice became a backstory-less eight-year-old named Markl.** And that makes me wonder, is Markl an odd Japanese transliteration of the name Michael? Hmm?
> Howl's backstory. Sadly sadly sadly, there is no jacket that reads, "WELSH RUGBY," even though that was one of my favorite parts of the book.
> The whole Wizard Suliman/Prince Justin thing. Warning: the prince is SO minor, you hardly even know he's an issue, and Wizard Suliman is not missing at all, but a woman (hey-oh, that was a major change) who advises the king. She is the one Sophie climbs all those steps to see. Weird, huh?

My advice for anyone who's been in love with the movie for years, but is hesitant to read the book: do it anyway. It's excellent and fun and beautifully written. It's a different version of the story you already love. There will be new things to enjoy, like seven-league boots, a fiercer-looking Calcifer, a mysterious place called... well, I won't spoil that one.

My advice for anyone who's read the book but hasn't seen the movie: see it. It's excellent and fun and breathtakingly animated. Make sure you watch it in Japanese with subtitles, because that's the way you watch Miyazaki. It's a different version of the story you already love. *smile* There will be new things to enjoy, like flying machines and Howl as a winged, feathered warrior. Just forget what you thought you knew about Diana Wynne Jones' fabulous novel. Hayao Miyazaki definitely puts his own spin to the story. But! What's great about it, is that all the differences (yes, there are still more) make it so uniquely his, and if you are fan of Miyazaki's other works, you know how unique his touches are. It's a testament to Miyazaki and his storytelling that he can almost entirely remake a beloved work, and have it become a new, separate beloved work.

And you will all be glad to know that some things do stay the same. Namely, temper tantrums and green slime. Baha.

*I'm not terribly flummoxed, obviously. I just really wanted to use that word.
** Guess who voiced Markl in the English-dubbed version of the movie? (Answer to be revealed in the next post, which I will probably write immediately instead of going to bed. Ha.)

Extra HMC tidbit: Legos?

And, uh, sorry if you haven't read this book OR seen the movie. I guess it goes without saying that I highly recommend you do both. For once, it's a tie.

How's about a little exit music? This is incredible:

1 comment:

  1. GAH! I must get to the Pocatello library and find. Howl.


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