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Environmental Issues in Howl's Moving Castle

Page history last edited by Kathryn Hansen 10 years, 9 months ago

Miyazaki's Environmental Views

Hayao Miyazaki depicts in his films an idea that people, technology and nature can happily co-exisist. He places the technology and people who can't or won't co-exisist happily with everyone, into the realm of evil and as a force to be fought against. In Howl's Moving Castle, Miyazaki shows us an idealized version of our own world, albeit with magic here and there, where the greatest joy comes from seeing the truth in nature or in one's nature. Nicholas Schager in his article for filmcritic.com says, "[Howl's Moving Castle is a] gloriously animated fantasia blessed by familiar Miyazaki hallmarks – vibrant, ethereal artwork, whimsical creatures, a rural world in which mysticism and technology happily coexist" (3). Miyazaki's bent toward environmentalism came from "growing up in the Showa period of Japan" (4). It was a particularly an unhappy time for him because "nature — the mountains and rivers — was being destroyed in the name of economic progress."


Life in Perfect Harmony

Miyazaki, in Howl's Moving Castle, shows many machines being used or living, seemingly, in harmony with the natural environments. The main machine that promotes this co-operative existence the Moving Castle. The castle has a very organic shape with its chicken legs, round tops and its obvious face. The castle is show spouting smoke through out the film but it is never shown that the smoke is harming the environment. We also see that the other inhabitants of the environment ignore this awkward hunk of metal moving about the landscape. Even extremely sensitive sheep, disregard the castle. Why this might be, is the impression that the castle is never hurting anyone, nor trying to take over its space. The castle simply flows with the course of nature and once it leaves a place it looks as if it had never been there.




Miyazaki also depicts people that seem to live in harmony with their environment. Sophie, Markl and Turniphead seem to be the people (or magical things) that live harmoniously with nature and their only impact is to make their living space better than it was before. As we can see with Sophie's Spring cleaning, she is simply making the castle environment more suitable for people to live in. She moves things about, but does not force the environment to change to unattainable standards.



War is the Distruction of Nature

Miyazaki, who is also an ardent pacifist, depicts those machines that are out of sync with nature as being destructive for all life, especially human life. In some of his other films, "Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the ecological paradise is threatened by military men and violent state-controlled armies. In each film, the conflict between the natural way of life and the military destruction of culture, land and resources is central to the plight of the protagonists" (4). These ideas are similar to Howl's Moving Castle except that this conflict between the natural way of life and the war is mainly inside Howl until Sophie's city gets bombed. The most blatant example of this disruction of life is the scene where Howl is flying around seeing the distruction of the country and one of the flying battleships spouts monsters at him. These monsters, we find out later, are transformed wizards that will never return to their human form. This tragedy of the environment affects the humans as greatly as the bombs tear up the country side.


Works Cited

1. "Howl's Moving Castle" wikipedia.org 8 December 2009. Web. 8 December 2009.

2. "Hayao Miyazaki" wikipedia.org 8 December 2009. Web. 8 December 2009.

3. Schager, Nicholas "Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review" filmcritic.com n.d. Web. 8 December 2009.

4. "Styles and Themes of Hayao Miyazaki" wikipedia.org 7 December 2009. Web. 8 December 2009.

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