I was re-watching Howl’s Moving Castle the other day and I noticed this theme of wanting to be beautiful.
- Sophie, the main character, is this plain quiet young woman who works at a hat shop. She has a sister named Lottie who’s like uber popular and works at a dessert place.
- Once Sophie gets the curse, there are these small moments in the movie where she looks and acts YOUNGER. Younger as in, less wrinkles, able to move around more, have lots of energy, etc.
- ^ I noticed that this particularly happens when her “guard” is down (i.e. the scene when Howl comes back from some sort of battle and sees her sleeping)
- Sophie, because of her insecurity over her looks, feels more comfortable and safe with the “old-age curse”. She likes to hide from any potential unwanted attention. And in her mind, it’s better to be old/ugly than young/plain because you have a reason to be “ugly” when you’re “old”. Whereas when you’re young, you can’t help the way you look—that’s when you’re in your “prime”.
- This is why only in those weak moments when Sophie has her guard down or when she’s not burdening herself with her own insecurities, she looks and acts so young. That’s why when she basically professes her love for Howl in that castle, she becomes young.
- So, TL;DR? The “old” curse Sophie is suffering from is SELF-INFLICTED. Only when she accepts herself and regains her confidence, SHE CHANGES BACK TO HER NORMAL “YOUNG” SELF.
I know Howl’s Moving Castle is based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones, but let me just say Miyazaki did such a kickass job that there are SO MANY SUBTLE DETAILS THAT I DID NOT REALIZE WERE THERE.
SO THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS: LADIES, STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP. YOU’RE NOT UGLY. Howl falls in love with Sophie when he sees her accept herself. In other words: You want to find love? It starts with loving yourself and understanding that you are precious. Why? Because you were wonderfully created and sculpted by Him.
Once again, Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli, you did a freaking amazing job and blew my mind with all the subtle nuances and details in the animation.