Secret of NIMH, The (1982)

Secret of NIMH, The (1982)

“We can no longer live as rats; we know too much.”

When a widowed mouse named Mrs. Brisby (Elizabeth Hartman) enlists the help of some educated rats in moving her family to safe ground, she learns the secret of her husband’s death.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aldo Ray Films
  • Animated Features
  • Elizabeth Hartman Films
  • Fantasy
  • John Carradine Films
  • Survival
  • Talking Animals
  • Widows and Widowers

The Secret of NIMH — based on the Newbery Award-winning young adult novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien — is the result of a decision by animators Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, and John Pomeroy to break away from Disney Studios and create their own independent studio. Their goal was to implement older, slower techniques — including airbrushed contact shadows and backlit animation — in hopes of evoking the “Golden age” of animation, and the visuals truly are gorgeous (see stills below). Unfortunately, however, the story itself — which deviates substantially from its source material — leaves much to be desired. I’ve seen the movie twice now, and each time have found my attention wandering about midway through; the narrative simply doesn’t sustain itself. Nonetheless, all film fanatics are sure to be curious about this historically important animation feature, and will want to watch it at least once.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Elizabeth Hartman as brave Mrs. Brisby
  • Lovely animation

Must See?
Yes, simply for its importance in animation history.


  • Historically Relevant


One thought on “Secret of NIMH, The (1982)

  1. A once-must, as a uniquely satisfying animated film.

    First viewing.

    I didn’t particularly have difficulty maintaining interest in the story as the film progressed. If some details in the film are a bit confusing at some point, that seems a result of the complicated web of relationships between many of the characters. Ultimately, though, it all sorts itself out. The story is a simple one about power struggles and courage within individuals. The writing could possibly have been sharpened a bit more but, as is, the flaws are minimal.

    The visuals are what rule here – and rule they do. The craftsmanship is quite impressive and what we see from scene to scene is what keeps the film moving at a nice clip.

    This could easily be a film that adult ffs could watch and enjoy with their budding ff offspring, tho it is a somewhat dark look at life in general and there’s not a lot of let-up from that. Personally, that doesn’t bother me, as I prefer animated films that are more adult in nature and take a much, much less candy-coated view of things.

Leave a Reply