Hello everyone! My name is Juli and I usually write over at A Universe in Words. I am currently in my final year as an English Student and will be moving up to Scotland for a Masters in August! My favourite genres are Fantasy and Classics (does that count as a genre?). I am really excited to write this post for Book Bloggers International on book adaptations.
I first got to know the novel through the film (shame on me, I know). I had been a fan of Studio Ghibli and its main director, Hayao Miyazaki, ever since watching Spirited Away (2001). I had heard from many people that Howl's Moving Castle was a great film and decided to give it a shot. 119 minutes later I was utterly in love with the story and desperate for more of it. I watched it in Japanese, I watched it in English and I told everyone about it. Maybe you can imagine my shock when someone told me there was a book. Initially I was hesitant to read the book, much in the way that most people are afraid to watch films based on their favourite books. Upon reading Jones’ book I realized Miyazaki changed quite a few aspects of the novel and, surprise surprise, I love all of them.
Now, you may wonder how Miyazaki would be able to preserve the essence of Jones' novel if he changes such a major part of the story. What is very clever about the film adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle is that it never forgets about its main characters. No matter what happens outside, Miyazaki always looks to the inside and there he finds Sophie, Jones' amazing main character. It is not often that a teenager-turned-eighty-year old successfully becomes the main character of a children's novel. Her self-discovery is crucial to the charm and magic of the novel and the film never once forgets that. Rather than shifting the attention to include more magic or explore Howl's past more, the film follows Sophie through everything and, as the emotional core of the movie, never abandons her. Because of this the film has a lot of heart, something that was crucial to Jones' novel. Not perfectly following every page of the novel to a T is no problem, as long as a director knows and loves the story he is adapting.