12

During the movie, Sophie for the most part was seen in the form of an old woman, thanks to the curse the Witch of the Wastes cast on her. However, whenever Sophie slept, she seemed to revert back to her regular self. And when she was talking to Madam Soloman, her body was slowly reverting and her hair was changing colour. Also, when Howl was setting things up for everyone, her facial features and voice reverted but not her hair.

By the end of the film, Sophie still had white hair but she seemed to have regained her youthful appearance. However, the Witch of the Wastes never removed the curse, given her magic was drained. I am wondering if Sophie's curse was eventually dispelled or not.

15

The film glosses over the explanation with only a few hints, but it's explained properly in the original novel by Dianne Wynn-Jones (and its sequels). The Witch of the Waste's curse was only short-term, and wore off very early on. The reason Sophie didn't recover was because

she herself had undiscovered magic talent, and was staying in the form of an old woman because she kept thinking of herself as such. She tended to revert whenever she wasn't thinking of herself that way - such as when she slept or when she was too focused on telling Madame Solomon off (and hence was thinking more of Howl).

7

In the book, the spell

did not actually last that long, and the only reason that Sophie stayed old was of her own doing and thoughts (she winds up having the magical ability to talk life into things.)

In fact, Howl

secretly tries to break her curse more than once and fails, commenting that Sophie "...must like..." being an old lady.

Also, in the book, Sophie

never switched back and forth repeatedly from young to old, rather she only becomes young when she frees Calcifer and gives back Howl's heart.

In Ghibli's version, I think he shows her

switching from one form to another to help explain that the spell is partially all in her mind.

As for the end... Miyazaki might have kept her

hair grey to physically show her metamorphosis from having low self-confidence in her looks to becoming "pretty", or he might have done it purely for visual appeal...

  • 1
    The book is irrelevant. The film is it's own story, made to be understood without having to read it. In the film, Sophie is old when she is thinking of, and feeling sorry for, herself. She becomes younger when she empathizes and is more concerned with other's welfare and happiness. In short, it is a curse of self-absorbtion. – user28819 Oct 20 '16 at 1:02

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