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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Out of all the animated movies said to challenge children, "The Secret of NIMH" is normally the first mentioned. And while I will say the movie can be pretty dark, I think it's reliance on magic hurts it's challenge ability. The idea of human testing turning street rats into intelligent beings is a great concept, but the actual conflict of the movie is focused more on Ms. Brisby. If the story was more about the rats of NIMH traveling to Thorn Valley, and the dangers they faced along the way, it would've left a bigger impact on me. The animation is great, the characters are cool, the concept is cool, but the plot's ultimately about moving a house. I'm sure there are plenty of people that absolutely adore this movie, and I can see why. But, I just found it very good, with a couple of disconnects.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not going to bother with what CULT as an acronym means. As some background, this film was pitched shortly after Don Bluth left Disney in 1979 over production values in The Fox and The Hound. As a first film for an animation studio, the Disney-esque art style and story really blew me away when I saw it on TV. The animation has some Disney mojo mixed in with subtle originality, and quite a few times I went "Whoa" at how well done the effects were, such as colored light flashes. The characters, while being worth our eyes, are actually not highly memorable, and the cast to a modern person would seem incredibly obscure (despite how their performances are amazing). The story presents a lot of darkness and mystery, with anxiety or intrigue in an absolute majority of the frames. 15 years after having left our childhood memories with Tom and Jerry, Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer makes the wise decision to distribute this film (but oh God no they made a sequel), and not long after it lost popularity, CULT grew. See it should you consider it, because for the most part, it deserves CULT.
That said, this movie is too dark and scary for young children ( I suppose that is why it is rated PG). The themes are very mature and I found myself explaining a lot of plot details to the kids. My children were required to read (or have read to them) The Rats Of Nimh, so we cheated and watched the movie. There is quite a departure from the book FYI. The kids love it but are confused by the ending. There were also elements that were confusing as well as elements that were so scary they left the room. Some unanswered questions remained. Did the rats get exterminated? I suppose we will check out the sequel. Mrs Brisby has been my hero since I was 9 years old and I am happy to share her braveness with my kids.
This is one of those films I "lost" in my memory banks until I
accidentally ran across it again. As soon as I saw the name of the film
(The Secret of NIMH) something clicked within and I said "oh yes I
remember this film and how much I loved it"! This movie is a great
story - a hidden gem of animated film classics! I was 10 years old when
this film came out, I do remember seeing this one in the theaters. I've
recently acquired the DVD - a cherished childhood film.
Timothy Mouse is sick with Pneumonia. His mother, Mrs. Brisby, will go on a dangerous journey to some medicine for her son. It's early spring and the (human) farmers are tilling up the fields and wanting to get rid of their rat & mouse problem. The mice will do what they can to save their homes. Mrs. Brisby's problems are increasing - she must see the Great Owl but owls eat mice but she must go - so her dark and scary journey begins!
A very dark, scary film at times - the colors are vivid and beautiful. The story is heartwarming and adventurous. The animation is superb!
This is a film well worth watching - I'm so happy to have it on DVD.
One major flaw keeps this from being a 10/10: Only two intelligent MALE mice survived NIMH: Mr. Johnathan Brisby and Mr. Ages. --- How did Mrs. Brisby become intelligent? Is Mr. Ages her father or grandfather?
Of all Don Bluth's films, this happens to be the one I've never seen during childhood. I got interested in this after how much the Nostalgia Critic kept talking about it and I'm glad I saw it. The animation was amazing, even by today's standards, and the premise was creative and had a good mixture of science fiction and fantasy. The plot was decent, but doubt it would have sit well with younger viewers due to its complexity, but nonetheless, a great movie. I got to say, it sure beats some of the contemporary Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid, Hercules, and Brother Bear with their simpler storyline. In fact, this film was a great reminder of how Bluth's films (his good ones) were always a much needed break from the mostly campy nature of Disney and proved that children can take a little darkness as long as it is patched up with a happy ending. Even as a child I liked darkness in animated movies. It's quite sad how this film isn't talked about much, along with other Don Bluth classics.
I saw "The Secret of NIMH" once or twice when I was young, but wasn't
able to finish it either time. Now, I've finally seen the whole thing.
Don Bluth's directorial debut starts out looking almost nebulous, as
widowed mouse Mrs. Brisby (whose first name is never identified)
fetches some medicine for her pneumonia-stricken son, and then has to
figure out a way to move her home before a farmer plows the field where
her home is located. But then the movie changes. Mrs. Brisby learns
that her late husband had an entire history about which she'd never
known, and before long she finds her true strength as a person, er,
Having seen this one and "An American Tail", it's clear that Don Bluth's animated features -- at least the early ones -- tackled much more complex topics than did Disney's features ("AAT" dealt with immigration). A far cry from the Disney princesses, Mrs. Brisby starts out as a meek housewife but is a strong woman by the end of the movie. In addition, the movie also focuses briefly on cruelty to animals, although I don't know if they even planned it like that. But whatever the case, this is an incredible movie. They even worked in a quote from "Chinatown"! Featuring the voices of Elizabeth Hartman (A Patch of Blue) and Hermione Baddeley in their final roles, Shannen Doherty and Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me) in their debuts, along with Derek Jacobi (The King's Speech), John Carradine, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Malet (Mary Poppins), Peter Strauss, Paul Shenar (Scarface), Aldo Ray (whose name is the inspiration for Brad Pitt's character in "Inglourious Basterds"), Tom Hatten, Lucille Bliss and Edie McClurg (Planes, Trains and Automobiles).
This delightful animated feature follows the trials of a mouse, Mrs.
Brisby. We learn early on that our protagonist is not fully aware of
the world beyond her cement block as evidenced by her first
interactions with another mouse, Mr. Ages. She progresses through
physically threatening trials; meanwhile, she becomes increasingly
aware of an entirely different world to which her late husband
belonged. As her understanding grows through these adventures, she is
presented with more complex and intellectually, even morally
challenging issues. The threats change from external, physical sources
to internalized difficulties arising from interacting with intellectual
equals or superiors. Still, her more comprehensive comprehension allows
her to reexamine and redefine her feelings towards her lost husband by
understanding what he went through and how he passed. Though she may
not understand the complexities of emotion and intelligence having only
recently being exposed to them, her good-hearted, courageous nature
guides her through. Therein lies what I believe to be an effective and
beautiful message from the film: even in times of turmoil and despair,
even when faced with feelings of inadequacy, even when directly
threatened by physical or emotional strife, the goodness within an
individual still bears incredible influence over surrounding people and
The Secret of Nimh is a film from director Don Bluth. It poses thought-provoking questions for older viewer while relaying outstanding lessons for younger audiences. The film's artwork is top-notch. Take a moment to read a bit from IMDb's trivia section to see some specific animation tricks the producers/editors used for the film's distinct look. The voice acting is believable though some viewers might find Jeremy to be a touch on the annoying side. I found the protagonist, Mrs. Brisby, to be particularly engaging because her script and subtleties in voice acting add to the film's sophistication. The scene when she's reading Nicodemus' book is quiet, moving, enchanting, and inspiring simultaneously. It is certainly an incredible scene within an incredible animated classic. If my recommendation is not apparent by this point, see this film at your next convenience. You will not be disappointed.
I hadn't thought of this movie for years, until my older daughter sent
me a web link to http://www.banksy.co.uk. Many of this artist's works
feature rodents in human poses. Why did they look so familiar to me?
The Internet Gods smiled on me -- my search for "+Bansky +rats"
How ironic, that I was reminded of the film by the same child who insisted we get the movie when she was a toddler; how lucky that the VHS was still around; how wonderful that that this film is still as poignant, witty, and imaginative as ever! The heroine, Mrs. Brisby, was perfectly voiced by Elizabeth Hartman, as were other characters by actors also now long gone: John Carradine (the Great Owl) and Sullivan (Aldo Ray).
To affirm an earlier commentary on this site: in the book, the heroine's name is "Frisby". The name was changed to avoid potential trademark problems with the word "Frisbee".
There are many animated films that deal with animals as the central
characters. In most of them you have to completely give in to the
escapism and forget about why animals are speaking human languages and
walking upright. However, this one is much different.
First, we have Mrs. Brisby. She is a mouse...and she has a family. She lives in a cement block in the farmer's field. That isn't much of anything until we learn she is not safe. Unfortunately, one of her children is sick and it makes things a lot more difficult. So after speaking with one of the wisest and deadliest creatures known to mouse-kind, she seeks the help of the rats.
This is where you start to realize this is no ordinary animated movie. Something is going on that tends to break the fourth wall, which is not only rare, but done very intelligently. Even though you are watching a cartoon about animals, it has the feel of live-action.
This is definitely one for kids of all ages, but it also has this dark edge and intelligence to it that can entertain adults and teens alike. That is something very difficult to do, yet the entire movie seems well-paced and very evenly balanced throughout.
Definitely one exceptional animated feature.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw this film back in 1982 when I was 9 and found it cool to
watch, but never quite got what it was until this evening when I sat
down and watched the DVD. In a brief conversation through the window,
the Farmer's wife mentions that NIHM stands for National Institute of
Mental Health. Then the experiments that Nicodemus speaks of make way
more sense to me now than at 9. Genetic enhancement, something I read
about a couple of years later in X-Men-however managed to not see The
Secret Of NIHM until now, a full 23 years later.
It's a shame the woman who voiced her is gone due to suicide, I loved the care that was taken with Mrs. Brisby's voice and mannerisms matching very well. I like that you can totally tell Justin has a crush on the sweet mouse widow and I like that he never once questions her when she announces the danger that is to come in the morning. He helps her, but ultimately she is the one who saves the day in more ways than one via her inner strength and her husband's gift. It also crossed my mind that maybe Jonathon had some sort of Sixth Sense, knowing his wife would need the stone eventually.
All in all this movie is amazing to watch and far less depressing than "The Plague Dogs" , another movie about experimenting on animals.
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