Howl’s Moving Castle through the eyes of a 4 year old

When the film club watched and discussed Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro a couple years ago, I watched parts of it with my (then) 2-year old grandson. He loved it, but at that time he was not up to watching an entire film at one sitting, so we watched individual scenes, and he soon developed a few favorites that he wanted to watch over and over and over.

In the meantime, Marilyn and I had recently watched Spirited Away and decided that some of the images in that film were probably too potentially frightening for an upcoming 4-year old (his current age), so we did not watch any of that film with him. When the film club picked Howl’s Moving Castle as the pick for January, we decided to watch it ourselves first to see if it seemed appropriate for a 4-year old. Some of the images (monsters and war-making machines) were a little frightening for a 4-year old, but we decided it would be ok for him to watch it as long as we were present to watch it with him. However, I expected that it would have to be viewed in parts over several settings since it runs about 2 hours. I cued up the DVD and started the film running while we sat on the couch. Two hours later the film was over, and my grandson had not budged the entire time, watching every scene intently. Amazing! Miyazaki is clearly a genius at tapping into the fantasy world psyches of both children and adults.

While watching it the second time, I was struck by the strong antiwar theme that runs throughout the film. I had noticed this element somewhat during the first viewing, but one is so mesmerized by the imagery the first time through that the narrative theme comes through only in an indirect way. This is a film I would highly recommend for any parents or grandparents to watch WITH their children and grandchildren.

Ron

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About Ron Boothe

I am a retired professor of psychology living in Tacoma Washington USA.
This entry was posted in 2004 - 2007, Discussion of Official TFC Selected Films. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Howl’s Moving Castle through the eyes of a 4 year old

  1. marlowe44 says:

    Ron:

    How incredible to let your 4 year old grandson cut his teeth on Miyazaki, rather than just a bland diet of BOB SPONGEPANTS, or hours of dribble and drek on the Cartoon Network. I agree that perhaps SPIRITED AWAY might have some disturbing images in it for him. When you look into the origin of fairy tales, of course, you find some pretty gruesome stuff. Being scared of monsters is a God-given right when you are a kid. Even as a teenager, and young adult, I was imprinted with some of the really scarey movie monsters and killers. I remember when I was nine, at night, I was afraid to look at windows for fear that I would see a face out there staring at me; a face with evil intent. Women vampires always unnerved me. PSYCHO freaked me too. Even today when I am in the shower, with my head under the water, when that bathroom door opens I feel pretty vulnerable. The original Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, wearing that white faced mask, standing in the back of your closet for hours, patiently waiting to slay you, the real visceral fear that an impassioned mask could hide such ferocity–that can keep you up nights too.

    When it comes to the Miyazaki canon, may I suggest PORCO ROSSO to you for the grandson. It has some fun stuff with vintage planes, and the hero is a pig. Somehow Miyazaki makes it work. For you and Marilyn, check out Chico’s anti-war anime pick, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, about a young boy and his small sister trying to survive in Hiroshima post-atomic bomb. Also look at Miyazaki’s CASTLE IN THE SKY. It has a lot of beauty, love, and adventure in it too. And pick up KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE too. It is a lot of fun. For you and the child, you might go out and rent THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, that French anime of a few years ago. It is hilarious and sad and interesting and very French. Have you watched PRINCESS MONONOKE from Miyazaki for a while? I think it is also very well done, and the child would like it. When will he be ready for the remake of KING KONG from last year? The CGI work in that is phenominal. Even if you have to put up with Jack Black’s histrionics, and Adrien Brody’s drollness. Noimi Watts is delicious in it; and Kong is played by Andy Sirikis, who had done Golom in the RING trilogy. Has the kid seen THE LION KING yet?

    Glenn

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