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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 25,424 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.



(novel), (story), 3 more credits »
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Title: The Secret of NIMH (1982)

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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


Let unforgettable characters from a new film classic take you on a triumphant adventure to discover... 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Members of the crew did some of the crowd voices for the rats of NIMH. Even Norbert Auerbach, then Chairman of United Artists Europe, and Charles Champlin, a leading critic at The Los Angeles Times, recorded some incidental voices. Regrettably, when the film was released, Champlin said he couldn't review it due to a conflict of interest. See more »


Dragon's bad eye switches from his right to his left throughout. 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 »


Referenced in The Big Bang Theory: The Habitation Configuration (2012) 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

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Don Bluth's Best work!
30 December 1998 | by (Alabama) – See all my reviews

Anybody who doesn't like this movie just doesn't love animation. How can a proclaimed fan of feature animation not be dazzled by the extravagance of Don Bluth's work seen in NIMH? Here is a perfect example of what happens when artists are given free reign to just create whatever their vivid imaginations may produce. To me, the greatest triumph of this movie is the art itself. Its greatest flaw is that it was cheapened by a sequel! Why in the name of HUMANITY was a sequel made? A masterpiece of this magnitude should not be so insulted as to be milked for every dollar that the bean counters say it can!

But I digress...

Bluth's use of highly stylized art to influence your emotions is rarely seen in others' work. The whole point of animation is that you are not limited by the bounds of reality, so thorns and cobwebs can be just that much more twisty and foreboding. Owls' eyes can glow- not because they do, but because it just plain looks cooler. The bright and sunny entrance to the rats' lair can suddenly fade to a background of blood red as Mrs. Brisby runs in terror from Brutus' electrified blade. What plot holes does using a lit electric lamp as a diving bell produce? Who cares? The concept just looks awesome on screen! The effects animation is spectacular in this movie as well. The glow of Nicodemus' eyes, the sparkling of the fairy dust ink and the flaming letters of the movie title screen are great, and the radiance emitting from Mrs. Brisby as the sheer strength of her character lifts her home from the mud is fantastic.

If the story were no more than a shabby framework to lace all of this cool art together, it would be good enough, but there's a lot going for it as well. It's not a complicated story, but its message of love, devotion, and courage shown in the meekest of people (mice?) is enough to inspire anyone! Mrs. Brisby's simple wish for the safety of her family drives her to the greatest of courage, despite her apparant simplicity and weakness. She stands as a model for all of us to aspire to.

Animation should never be considered something just for kids. It should not require the characters to burst into song at regular intervals, or the story to be sappy and condescending. NIMH does none of this. It is truly a movie for movie-lovers of all ages. Disney, take a hint!!! Don Bluth, keep making movies like this, and your field will reach an entirely new level of acceptance among older viewers in America.

51 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Nostalgia Critic liked it, so... ManWithGoodTaste
maybe this movie was just bad? silverskysurfer3
What was Mrs. Brisby's first name? Geek_of_Geeks
Things that did not work bruno-mailly
Not one but two profane words! rwillams-1
Anyone know why they changed the name to Brisby? jcleveland
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