The Secret of NIMH (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set, Movie Cash)

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Secret of NIMH

Jun 19, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Beautiful animation, intriguing writing, doesn't dumb itself down

Cons:Dom Delouise?

The Bottom Line: 9.7/10


In the days of the animated movie, I don't think any animator did more beautiful work than Don Bluth. As a kid, I had no idea who was behind these films, but they were always my favorites. All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Land Before Time, An American Tail. These are simply some of the best animated features. The animation style in itself was always so fluid and beautiful that even when the movies were terrible (A Troll in Central Park, for example) the viewing experience was still pleasurable. The Secret of Nimh was Don Bluth's debut picture and it makes for one of his best works, in fact it's probaby his best.

This is a pretty dark and sinister film. It frightens young children and adults alike. I am still creeped out by the owl. The plot is actually quite unique, though adapted from a novel. It's got a very nice draw to it. There are plenty of animated films about animals. What makes Secret of Nimh stand out is first the impeccable presentation, but also the fact that the animals in this film have a scientific explanation for walking and talking. Not only that, they have real humanistic dilemmas such as guilt and responsibility and all the things that come with free thought and consciousness. It's not overt, but it's quite fascinating.

The main character is Ms. Brisby, a widow mouse in a red shawl whose son catches pneumonia. She must go to great lengths to save him, as the plow season is coming and the mice must migrate soon. Ms. Brisby's husband was a brave mouse who helped save the mice from a laboratory doing experiments, as is revealed by a flashback. This is the most fascinating thing about the film. NIMH stands for National Institute of Mental Health. Yes, the movie's title means The Secret of National Institute of Mental Health. The movie does a funny melding of fantasy, science fiction and just Shakespearian Drama to make for a pretty fascinating viewing experience. You see it was the experiments done in the health institute that made the mice hyper intelligent, and they escaped away. The mice use electricity but feel guilt about it, for they are stealing from the farmer's electricity. Why the mice don't speak to the humans or try to, I don't know if it's explained, but the mice move like mice. In an early scene we can see the mouse running from the family cat, Dragon, and the movements are more fluid and disturbing as she resembles a real mouse.

Yeah, the family cat is named "Dragon" and is painted as a purely evil creature of horror. The Great Owl is more terrifying, with hollow, glowing eyes and more. If the owl can speak English, was it also experimented on? The film doesn't explain. Ms. Brisby also has a friend which is a crow voiced by Dom Delouise. The voice doesn't really fit, the crow looks cooler than his voice, but it's the only comedic relief for the entire film. The rest of the voicework is really good, especially Ms. Brisby's mousey vocal work. It just fits. There are other characters. A confucius type king rat, and a few humans, though they almost demystify the mysterious nature of the writing. Ms. Brisby has a magical stone that everyone wants and the rats and mice fight to the death over it. The final battle of this film is long, realistic and violent and ends with a dagger to the back. I think this film is better off not toning down the violence. I couldn't even follow it as a kid. The many threatening villains, the bloodless but violent fighting, and the absolute high degree of moral dilemma these animals suffer with is fascinating and moving. The music is a bit sentimental, but beautiful. This is a film you can watch and rewatch at any age and always enjoy. Few animated films capture this level of quality on both a cerebral and visual level. While Don Bluth's carreer is hit and miss, this one is spot on and one of the best animated films of all time in my opinion.


Recommend this product? Yes


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