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|Index||136 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watch this film, and think to myself: Why hasn't this won at least some kind of important award (Emmy, Grammy)? This was a masterpiece in the making, and yet it is so underrated because the likes of Pixar and such. Almost all the characters are likable: courageous Mrs. Brisby, went through all kinds of trouble to help her sick son, that loudmouthed Ms. Shrew, and ol' Jeremy, the comedic relief of this dark, dramatic film. It also surprises me that this movie got rated G with all the blood and themes here (not to mention the use of the word "Damn"), but then again, so did Watership Down (which got a U rating in the UK). So, in conclusion, this movie gets two thumbs up.
THE SECRET OF NIMH
The one and only film Don Bluth managed to really hit out of the park after leaving Disney is his first attempt at a full length feature... THE SECRET OF NIMH. Based on the classic story "Mrs. Frisby & The Rats Of Nimh", Bluth's film definitely simplifies some of the heavier elements of the classic children's novel, but compared to some other children's films of the time he does leave a good deal of meat on the bones.
It's the story of a simple field mouse, Mrs. Brisby, who must move from the fields before the farmer plows away her home. However, her young son Timmy is gravely ill and the move would surely kill him. She must muster courage she didn't know she had and unearth secrets she didn't know existed... and in the process she not only tries to save her son, but the lives of the mysterious rats who live in the farmer's rose bush.
THE SECRET OF NIMH was one of the first large-scale animated films to really find success outside of the "Disney" institution and it did so by both embracing Disney's top qualities and differentiating itself all the same.
NIMH features top grade animation, but instead of the usual bright-cheeriness of Disney, all the imagery has a dark shadowy feel. NIMH is not a bright, always happy story and this film embraces that. All the brightness radiates from the leading character of Mrs. Brisby (voiced by Academy Award nominated actress Elizabeth Hartman, in a wonderful voice over performance).
Mrs. Brisby is an innocent women with little strength, but her loyalty and love for her children, her dead husband, her friends, and her comrades is so overwhelming that it leads her to do great things. She does all with an almost ignorant optimism that makes her a truly lovable and admirable central character.
While the film embraces the "cuteness" of talking animals, funny sidekicks (Dom DeLuise makes a good comic foil as Brisby's loyal Crow friend), and sappy songs... it goes further with the serious side of things then Disney often does. The villain is pure evil, the violence and terror is very strong, and we see Rats and Mice getting murdered and destroyed (blood and all). However, it is this boldness that makes the film stand so distinctly apart from many of Disney's efforts.
THE SECRET OF NIMH is gripping, emotionally involving, and fun for the whole family... and it maintains a delightfully quick pace to ensure that it never drags. All in all, it's a wonderful animated movie that parents can fully enjoy with their children and not completely sacrifice drama, thrills, tension and overall emotional gravitas.
It's a shame that in Don Bluth's later efforts (THUMBELINA, ANASTASIA, ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN) he seemed to try less in terms of differentiating himself from Disney and instead he continually conformed to their formula. In the process, he made no films that came close to living up to the potential he showed with the marvelous SECRET OF NIMH.
... A- ...
'The Secret of NIMH' was Don Bluth's first film. Bluth defected from
Disney when they said that 'NIMH' was 'too dark' for the studio. So,
Bluth and about 20 other animators went off and made it for MGM. The
end result is a fairly sophisticated animated fantasy that is a highly
entertaining counterpoint to the films of Disney.
While kids will enjoy 'NIMH' for characters like Jeremy the clumsy crow (voiced by Bluth regular Dom DeLuise), teenagers and adults will get more out of it due to the interesting story involving superintelligent rats. Make no mistake, though; Bluth is no Ralph Bakshi. While there is blood, violence, and at least one curse word, Don Bluth doesn't even come close to the ultraviolent, ultrasexual antics of Bakshi.
The animation is great, with extremely expressive characters that represent a fantasy vision of the animal world rather than the 'real world'. The voice acting is excellent, and the presence of Derek Jacobi as the voice of the old wise rat Nicodemus does not overwhelm the film. Jacobi is excellent, of course, but so is DeLuise and the late Elizabeth Hartman, who expertly voices the heroic mouse Mrs. Brisby.
All in all, 'The Secret Of NIMH' is a great animated film that jumpstarted the career of Don Bluth (who did not make another 'great' film for some time).
For me, this movie has stood the test of time. Visuals are great,
touching storyline that is entertaining as well.
Being 25 yrs old, I saw this movie when it first came out and never found the material too dark or disturbing. Anyone who is worried about a very young child should probably just make sure to have good lighting in the room during the later part of the movie since your screen colors will get a little dark.
I can probably say I laugh at the jokes (instead of the physical comedy) more as an adult than a kid since I understand it better, although my adult brother found it boring.
I myself am completely entranced watching it to this day--just as I was when I was young.
I remember seeing this movie as a kid in the mid-eighties. I found that it was quite different than the average disney fare. It had a certain darkness about it not unlike a Tolkien novel. The storyline I think is a bit advanced for the average young child, but older children and adults will appreciate it. The animation is first-rate. Definitely worth a look if you're tired of the standard computer-generated Disney fare. 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And, I was so bowled over by the great animation and storyline that I went to see it, at the old hometown theater, twice more! *Warning: spoilers ahead.* Dom Deluise (not to be confused with Don Bluth) was hilarious as Jeremy, the bumbling-but-good hearted crow. And, John Carradine (veteran of many a classic medium-budget thriller) was appropriately scary as the voice of the Great Owl! Best of all, however? The climactic sword-fight between Justin and Jenner. It's the best I've seen this side of Flynn and Rathbone in "The Adventures of Robin Hood!" *Hey! I'm a guy. What else can I say?* Final analysis? A perfect 10.
"Don's first feature is lovingly animated but the differences from the book
annoyed me. First of all there's the name change - Frisby to Brisby. Why?
Secondly there's Jenner. Tiger & the Tractor & The Humans were threats
enough in the book. Jenner was only mentioned. Thirdly there's the magic.
The mice & rats managed perfectly well without it. It was an unnecessary
embellishment. My other complaint is that the NIMH scenes are passed over
So what's good about it? Jeremy, Martin & The Shrew are the best characters. I like Flying Dreams. The animation is good. Not bad for an initial film but he has made better since. 6/10"
I find it amazing that someone goes and criticizes a glorious film such as "Secret of NIMH" for inaccuracies such as "Frisby being changed to Brisby" and that "Jenner was only hinted" which would have been better not changed for a supposedly better adaptation of a book. I don't suppose these people realize it is DIFFICULT to adapt a film from a book. Books aren't written to be cinematically and you must realize that even if you're a huge fan of the book. If you ere making a film off of it, you'd still have to make changes. It's just the way it goes. Peter Jackson was an incredible lover of the Lord of the Rings trilogy but even he realized that making a by-the-numbers adaptation would just make the films dull. So he had to leave out or change a few things.
So what if filmmakers change a few things? This isn't a true story nor is it based on anything immediately important in today's world such as terrorism. Fiction is fiction is fiction. People have GOOD reasons for changing things.
Anyway, I'd like to add that there's a lot of garbage cartoon features in today's society. Disney films have just gotten WORSE and WORSE and WORSE and very few people seem to realize that animated features these days try too hard to win children's emotions or even gear themselves to being appealing. All these horrible, annoying songs we have to witness in Disney films are absolutely forgettable and in addition, people seem to look at animation as a different genre. It isn't! It's another technique of making film. It just requires the hand more than actually filming live-action. Few filmmakers and studios seem to realize this besides those in the independent world.
"Secret of NIMH" has INCREDIBLE colors. The detail you see in the foreground and background puts a lot of variety. This isn't some computer generated Pixar film. These are REAL, hand-drawn, full-blood images with more labor and energy than even an entire computer can lay out. Plus the animation is FLAWLESS. Here you see emotions being drawn out as if they're real emotions on a human being or creature. Every cartoon feature or TV episode has its drawbacks as far as keeping the drawings consistent with the plot, action, and even being quite simply realistic. I didn't notice those problems in this film.
I must also add that while "Secret of NIMH" might not be 100% faithful to the book, as a cinematic experience it's wonderful. As I've said before, here we have a film which takes the story seriously and doesn't turn it into an overly sentimental, manipulative Disney film. A lot of characters in this film are actually well-realized. Most of them are not flat. We realize their reason for existed in this film and even Jenner, the villain of this story, is three-dimensional as a character. His sole purpose for having greed and wanting to take over as the leader of the rats is because of Nicodemus trying to say that the rat race has become very intelligent and would cause a problem if more and more grew and went beyond the rose bush. In fact, the "Nimh" story is the most fascinating element. There's actually a reason behind why the rats talk, which is much different than any film ever made in history. All these other animated films put non-human characters in the narrative and have them talk but there's never a backstory as to why they speak. "Secret of NIMH" puts a backstory and by doing that, the result is fresh and unique.
Mrs. Brisby as a character is very intelligent and well developed. In a lesser film, she'd have less to do or say. Here we see Mrs. Brisby as a character who is in fact a great woman role model, even as a mouse. I'm especially touched in the conversations Brisby has with crow, Jeremy (wonderfully voiced by Dom DeLuise) in how Jeremy could find the right girl. Even this isn't played out as a cheesy joke. This even explains why Jeremy, although clumsy, isn't a stupid sidekick. He has feelings and wants to help a lot but ends up getting into trouble.
Plus the end fight scene with Justin and Jenner is exciting, even for an animated film. It's illustrated in a triumphant musical score by Jerry Goldsmith.
By the way, in my book this film deserves a 10/10.
As a child, I know I was already a TV-movie-fan (as I am now). This movie
one of the movies I remember best of my childhood... The other ones are
fox and the hound", and a movie called "Ben", with a young boy and his
friend Ben, a rat (the theme song was sung by Michael Jackson).
This movie, NIMH, as I remember it, was very frightening, but also very moving (The way Mrs. Brisby takes care of her children). But what struck me most when I watched this movie yesterday, after 20 years, is that I remember all the voices, all the characters, even some of the lines... it shows how much this movie impressed me when I was a kid!! I just bought it on DVD, and I know that I am going to show it to all the kids I know!!
It is funny (Jeremy the crow and Auntie Shrew are hilarious), moving, but not dumb like a lot of kids movies are... You can show it to your kids, they will adore it!!
For a time, this used to be my second favorite animated movie until Bambi bumped it down. Still, this is a great, masterfully crafted movie. While this was made long before the days of computers, the environment is still breathtaking. The movie is dark and exciting, but not too scary for older kids. Even adults will love it. The rats are mysterious and the Great Owl scene is perfectly chilling. Mixed in with this grand adventure is just a simple tale of a mother's quest to save her son. The Brisby kids are charming, and Mrs. Brisby herself is a strong, admirable character. She is much better than many Disney characters I've seen. While the story is a little on the thin side and lacks the depth of many Disney movies, this doesn't have much of the hokiness and bad humor that pervades the Disney movies, particularly the modern Disney movies. It also doesn't feel the need to burst into big, overblown musical numbers. It's only necessary song, "Flying Dreams", is a fantastic lullaby of love. This is a fine Bluth classic, one of only two really good ones he did, the second being The Land Before Time. Enjoy this movie all over again and remember the magic that Bluth once had.
Many people remember hearing about this film when they were kids. An
animated movie - a feature length cartoon - and not made by Disney!
Well, I have to say, groundbreaking though it may have been at the time - launching the Don Bluth animation studios. It has some problems that keep it from holding up.
First the good - unlike Disney films, which are still stuck in the animated musical rut to this day, The Secret of NIMH does not lapse into cheesy and contrived song and dance numbers every 7 minutes or so. Second, as the name implies (for those who are familiar with the acronym N.I.M.H.) there is a science fiction element at work here - one that provides a credible backstory for a community of talking animals who use tools and even complex machinery - something that other animated tales seldom address.
On the downside, the annoying comic relief character (which always seems to be a bird in these films) is present, though thankfully, Dom DeLouise's portrayal isn't as over-the-top annoying as Disney films that cast more frenetic comics like Robin Williams or Eddie Murphy.
That however is minor in comparison to the films big flaw, the use of magic, which practically invalidates the science elements entirely. Not that a children's fantasy film can't have magic (most of the best ones do), or even a mixture of magic and technology, it's just that the two don't mix very well in this film.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the animals ultimately solve their problems not through their own ingenuity, but (in one of the worst deus ex machina moments in any film of this kind) by using hitherto unexplained magical powers, wrapping things up with a true groaner of an ending.
So, what we have is a modestly entertaining animated feature that was groundbreaking for it's time (especially in the use of special effects animation), and whose good points still outweigh it's bad ones, but which is ultimately outshined by many more recent efforts.
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