The same month when storyboards came about [for the movie], Miyazaki set off to the ancient forests of Yakushima, in Kyushu and the mountains of Shirakami-Sanchi in northern Honshu [of Japan]. “It was just right, the ruins of this ancient forest reflects on us as humans. We need to learn to appreciate what we have left of the environment, and I wanted this as a theme for the animation.” -Miyazaki on his inspiration for Princess Mononoke
I would just like to point out that the beginning and end of Spirited Away creep me out in the most delicious way possible. I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales, and not just the Grimm and Anderson stuff, almost all my life. Like the honestly faerie court stories.
Themes you see in those reflect strongly in this movie, and comparing them side by side just makes it that much more stark.
Often times you hear that if you get sucked into the fairy realm, you shouldn’t eat their food. It gives them power over you. More often than not, heroes finally escape the fairy realm after what they perceive to be a very short time (a night or a week)…
…only to find that seasons or years have passed.
‘Hey, it’s all dusty in here. Is this someone’s idea of a joke?’
CRAPPING SHIT I WHY HAVE I NEVER NOTICED THIS
This always freaked me out a little as a kid. Like the OP, I couldn’t help but wonder how long REALLY passed. I always pretended it was something like a week but… Judging by that moss, I can’t say for sure.
A week? Try much MUCH /MUCH/ longer. The plants are a good indicator but a better one is the statue. We’re seeing it from the same angle in each shot. Look in the first one before she enters, it’s not NEW but you can tell what it is.
Now look at the second frame. It’s so eroded it’s just a dull, flat stone.
That thing is solid stone, that must have taken up to, if not more than, a DECADE to wear down that much.
Not to mention that there are new trees next to the car. Just remember how long it actually takes for trees to grow real quick.
Evidence is suggesting they were in there for maybe around 20-30 years.
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.
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.
There are other mentions of beauty in the movie. When Howl gets really sad/depressed about his hair dye being wrong and says “what’s the point of living when I can’t be beautiful!” and then becomes all slimey. Yeah… brilliant movie and brilliant book. (For those who haven’t read the book it’s really good and I’d recommend it. Also the book is very different to the movie. Like, butt loads.)