Excellent animated tale
Paul J. Moade | Jacksonville, FL United States | 02/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A captivating story; smooth, clean animation; and an outstanding musical score combine to make this film a rewarding sensory experience.Set in the tradition of Disney animated movies (from where Mr. Bluth came), yet this film's flavor is a shade different. I would almost say more "realistic". Not to knock any Disney films (which I love to watch), this movie deals with a problem set on a 'it could happen' level. No search for a Prince Charming here -- just a person (mouse in the film) attempting to deal with the real world problem of how to relocate the Brisby family's home under emergency conditions when one of its members is too ill to move. The story has charm and wit, and yes, even a bit of mortality thrown in. The art and animation are top notch, and the plot flows without a lot of irrelevant detail for padding. Very young children may not follow exactly what message is being sent to the audience, however, they will probably enjoy the show all the same. For older viewers, most should be able to pick up on the theme of "caring and self-sacrefice" under difficult conditions.Originally not a well-known movie, it has built up a cult following over the years. Yes, this one has a place in your video or DVD library -- especially if you have children.*** Recommended ***~P~"
2 Disc Edition is an Improvement... Mostly
Scott Schirmer | Bloomington, IN | 06/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The colors are better in the 2-disc edition, but don't let the addition of the widescreen format get you too excited - it's falsely achieved. I compared the full-frame version to the widescreen (both are included in the new release), and for the widescreen version, all they did was crop off the tops and bottoms of the images. I read the producers were kinda baffled when they heard a 'widescreen' version of NIMH was coming out, because the film was shot very near 1.33 to 1 aspect ratio, which is pretty much the size of most old-fashioned TV screens. Anyhow - get this new edition, watch the full-frame version (can't believe I'd ever be saying those words), and enjoy the commentary track from Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, as well as the 15 minute featurette on disc 2. The games are for little children, and so is the packaging. I wish there was a collector's edition release geared more towards adults and animation enthusiasts, but this will have to do for now. Best animated film ever made, in my opinion."
"Courage of the heart is very rare..."
Monty Moonlight | TX | 09/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mrs. Brisby is a newly-widowed young mother with four hungry mouths to feed. She's also a tiny field mouse who scrapes out a modest living for herself and her family among the other small animals who live in Farmer Fitzgibbons' field. Harder times have fallen upon the meek and selfless little mouse, however, as her youngest child, Timmy, has become ill with pneumonia just as the family is forced to find a new home before the farmer's plowing begins. Doing anything and everything in her power to help her son and discover a remedy for her moving woes, Mrs. Brisby visits an ingenious little mouse named Mr. Ages who provides her with medicine for Timmy. Unfortunately, the danger comes sooner than expected, and Mrs. Brisby must find a faster solution. At the suggestion of her friend and neighbor, Auntie Shrew, the desperate mother takes her plea to the Great Owl. This is a dangerous task indeed for a tiny little mouse, but Mrs. Brisby will stop at nothing for the welfare of her children. She survives the frightening experience only to be sent on another quest. The Great Owl informs her that she must seek out the wise, old Nicodemus, leader of the rats in the rosebush, for only they have the power to move her home; the rats of NIMH.
NIMH, the National Institute of Mental Health, is the key to all that Mrs. Brisby never knew about her late husband. Her experiences with the rats of NIMH, escapees from that awful place, will open her eyes to an entire world of secrets, science, and magic that she never could have imagined before. Most importantly, she will come to realize the power within herself. "Courage of the heart is very rare; the stone has a power when it's there."
When former Disney animator Don Bluth struck out on his own, he was unable to take the Disney "magic" with him. Despite the number of animated films to his credit since, most lack a certain special "quality" that sets them in league with the great works of the house that Walt built. This is not to say that many of his films aren't enjoyable. In fact, a few came rather close to that Disney excellence, and one such film shines above all the others: "The Secret of NIMH." In a time when fantasy films were all the rage, NIMH was the perfect animated feature, but what made this story so powerful and exceptional was the bold style in which Bluth chose to tell it. "The Secret of NIMH" makes no effort to be like a Disney film, nor does it attempt to be aggressively different. It simply uses its own style to create a world that suits the story perfectly. There is magic, but no fairy-godmothers or three wishes. The animals in NIMH live among modern day humans, but their own existence is very much medieval, with swords, wizards, and strange creatures around every corner. The film makes no apologies for depicting blood, death, and at least one use of the "D" word (I wasn't exactly counting). In fact, I'm quite surprised to see it listed as rated "G" on Amazon. I had thought it came out as a "PG" film, though I'm not certain. Regardless, the film is excellent for family viewing among parents and older kids; not too low-brow for adults, but full of humor, fun, and adventure for the younger set. The characters are striking and real, from the humble little Mrs. Brisby to her caring friends, to the dangerous creatures that lurk and plot around them. Dom DeLuise is unforgettable as the clumsy and confused Jeremy the crow, and the dramatic presence of greats like John Carradine, Hermione Baddeley, and Derek Jacobi is not unfelt. The animation is glorious, as one should expect from a former Disney animator, and the story's message about courage and love is conveyed flawlessly, but the real power of this film is invoked by the music. The hauntingly medieval-sounding score by Jerry Goldsmith will stay with you forever, even if Disney music is more your style (take it from me, a Disney fanatic), and Paul Williams' singing of "Flying Dreams" during the credits is equally enchanting.
The DVD is much less spectacular. The only real extra feature is the theatrical trailer, and the film is presented in fullscreen without having been remastered. Still, it's nice to replace the old VHS with a disc, even if the viewing experience is only slightly improved. The DVD I have features the previous cover art, however it is my understanding that the art is the only thing that has changed with this newer release. Hopefully, this animated classic will receive a more comparable DVD release in the future. If you haven't seen "The Secret of NIMH" yet and consider yourself a fan of animation, you MUST pick it up. Outside the Disney Studios, American animation doesn't get much better than this!
Don Bluth's Best Movie
James A. White | 12/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie on HBO Back in the 80's and loved it since - Don Bluth has made many other animated films, but none of them have the class, humor and the fantastic animation of "The Secret of Nimh". This was Bluth's "Citizen Kane" and he hasnt topped it yet.This was the only time the former Disney animator beat his former bosses with a excellent story and near-perfect characterization. While his other films were far more successful they always seemed to be expensive advertisments for toys with predictable plotlines. Those movies were fun for the little kiddies but, but not much fun for animation fans who wanted Bluth to be the savior of this great art form.My only gripe about the DVD is that it should have been redone for widescreen and 5.1 sound, my copy looks exactly like the VHS print. I guess since MGM thought it was just a "kids movie" they didnt need to spend any extra money to remaster it from a better film source and give it a high class presentation."