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The Secret of NIMH (1982)

G  |   |  Animation, Adventure, Drama  |  2 July 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 25,783 users  
Reviews: 143 user | 48 critic

To save her ill son, a field mouse must seek the aid of a colony of rats, with whom she has a deeper link than she ever suspected.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicodemus (voice)
Mrs. Brisby (voice)
Mr. Ages (voice)
Jeremy (voice)
Auntie Shrew (voice)
Teresa (voice)
Martin (voice)
Jodi Hicks ...
Cynthia (voice)
Ian Fried ...
Timothy (voice)
Great Owl (voice)
Justin (voice)
Jenner (voice)
Farmer Fitzgibbons (voice)
Mrs. Fitzgibbons (voice)
Sullivan (voice)


Mrs. Brisby, a widowed mouse, lives in a cinder block with her children on the Fitzgibbon farm. She is preparing to move her family out of the field they live in as plowing time approaches, however her son Timothy has fallen ill, and moving him could prove fatal. Mrs. Brisby visits The Great Owl, a wise creature who advises her to visit a mysterious group of rats who live beneath a rose bush on the farm. Upon visiting the rats, Brisby meets Nicodemus, the wise and mystical leader of the rats, and Justin, a friendly rat who immediately becomes attached to Mrs. Brisby. While there, she learns that her late husband, Mr. Jonathon Brisby, along with the rats, was a part of a series of experiments at a place known only as N.I.M.H. (revealed earlier in the story as the National Institute of Mental Health). The experiments performed on the mice and rats there boosted their intelligence, allowing them to read without being taught and to understand things such as complex mechanics and ... Written by MIss Victoria

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Right before your eyes and beyond your wildest dreams. See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

2 July 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mrs. Brisby and the Rats of NIMH  »

Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jerry Goldsmith also was the composer on the "Poltergeist" (same year). Similarities can be heard in the score. See more »


The string Mrs. Brisby uses to lower herself down from the birdcage changes position in relation to the cage bars. See more »


[first lines]
Nicodemus: Johnathan Brisby was killed today while helping with the plan. It is four years since our departure from NIMH, and our world is changing. We cannot stay here much longer. Johnathan was a dear friend. I am lost in knowing how to help his widow. She knows nothing about us or the plan. Perhaps best that I do nothing at present. I shall miss him. Johnathan - wherever you are - your thoughts must comfort her tonight. She will be waiting and you will not return. Farewell... my friend.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The production storyboards are used for background in the end credits. See more »


Featured in Animation Lookback: Don Bluth Part 1 (2011) See more »


Flying Dreams
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Lyrics Written and Performed by Paul Williams
Arranged by Ian Fraser
Lullaby Performed by Sally Stevens
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Magical, Fantastic, a real delight
10 March 2005 | by (Peoria, Arizona) – See all my reviews

The Secret of NIMH after twenty three years is still an absolutely fantastic film. I hold it in such high regard as the even more obscure Gay Pur-ee (with the voice talent of Judy Garland, also wonderful) and Disney's Robin Hood.

Criticisms can be made of the film. For one, "faithful" isn't exactly an adjective that can be used when describing it's relation to the source material: "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" by Robert O'Brien. However, the novel was a Newberry Award winner and it deserved an excellent film which is what it received.

The book itself had two separate story lines, one focusing on Mrs. Frisby and her plight, and the other a lengthy backstory involving the rats of NIMH. For the animated feature, Don Bluth and his team chose to focus on Mrs. Frisby's plight and for this I am grateful.

In Mrs. Brisby we have a totally unique and a truly delightful heroine. She isn't some young boy getting ready to go on a fantastic adventure or some sort of great, brave hero. She's just a mother, a mother whose first concern is her family. And she makes a fantastic hero, showing that courage isn't just involved in facing down fierce monsters (though when she has to do that she finds the courage). She never stops pushing herself and though she might be a very small mouse, she has a very big heart.

As a kid I walked away thinking how cool Justin was, but now that I'm older I have complete respect for Mrs. Brisby. It's an excellent film both for children and adults alike.

And how about Derek Jacobi as Nicodemus? Dom deLuise as Jeremy? Not to mention Elizabeth Hartman, whose short career was never-the-less magnificent. Thank god for film that we might have her talents available to us for all time!

31 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Nostalgia Critic liked it, so... ManWithGoodTaste
Why was Nicodemus killed? mark-1
What was Mrs. Brisby's first name? Geek_of_Geeks
maybe this movie was just bad? silverskysurfer3
Things that did not work bruno-mailly
Not one but two profane words! rwillams-1
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