It’s always heartbreaking when you remember films from your childhood, films you loved so dearly and wholeheartedly never got the recognition they deserved when they initially came out. The Secret of NIMH is one such film, I had seen it at least two and a half decades after its original release, and yet it became such a huge part of my life as a child.
A few years ago, when I watched it again, it felt very unconventional compared to animated films of that era. It turns out, this film never got the love that it deserved, so I’m here to tell you about how much of a masterpiece it is.
How to Download The Secret of NIMH
You can download the film from a digital store. You can also stream it. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like animated fantasy films, check out also our review of Raya and the Last Dragon, Strange World, and The Black Cauldron.
The Movie Review
The unassuming and quite ordinary mouse, Mrs. Brisby, finds herself in quite a precarious position. Her family’s home is set to be destroyed by an upcoming plowing of the field where they live, and she is faced with the dilemma of moving them all to safety. However, her plans are thwarted by the fact that her youngest son, Timmy, is seriously ill with pneumonia. In a desperate bid for help, she turns to a clandestine collective of experimental rats who possess an extraordinary level of intelligence due to being surviving subjects of human experimentation.
Together, they embark on a mission to relocate Mrs. Brisby’s home and save her family from the plowing of doom.
Don Bluth’s artistry in NIMH is nothing short of breathtaking, and any true lover of feature animation would be remiss not to appreciate it. The movie is a shining testament to what can be accomplished when artists are given complete creative freedom to explore their imaginations.
Bluth’s work is a tour de force in stylized art that plays upon our emotions in ways that few others can match. What makes this film truly exceptional is how it captures the very essence of animation – the ability to transcend reality and create a world that is entirely unique. It does not want to be realistic, because it absolutely does not have to.
This gives The Secret of NIMH a power that no other film can, the power to play with your mind and your heart at the same time.
In addition to the absolutely groundbreaking visuals, the story in this film is a testament to the power of love, devotion, and bravery – qualities that are embodied by even the most unassuming of creatures (in this case, mice).
The true greatness of this film lies in its sincere and unflinching approach to storytelling.
Don Bluth’s unwavering belief in the power of this tale shines through in every frame, and his independent spirit allows him to tell the story exactly as he envisions it. It’s a hauntingly poignant movie, tackling weighty themes like inner struggles, responsibilities, science, nature, and the conflict between them, along with a more mature dramatization of those topics with subtlety.
I’ve already talked up the visuals, but I must say it again, The Secret of NIMH is a visual masterpiece. Don Bluth’s unique style is on full display, creating a world of Gothic beauty filled with deep shadows and intricate details that draw the viewer in.
The atmosphere is reminiscent of a bygone era, adding to the sense of horror and making moments of light and hope all the more impactful. Not to mention, the auditory experience is just as touching, with some of the best voice acting, and music you’ve ever heard.
The musical score for the film is an integral part of its success, as the late Jerry Goldsmith’s work is simply exceptional. The soundtrack for this film bears a close resemblance to his score for Ridley Scott’s Legend. One particular piece, named Flying Dreams, is a moving and poignant song that showcases Goldsmith’s immense talent.
There are no frivolous musical numbers, only a dynamic and exhilarating score that complements the film’s plot flawlessly. The music is precisely tuned to the narrative, mirroring the film’s mix of somberness and optimism, and creating an immersive experience for the viewer.
The Secret of NIMH is an artistic masterpiece that never quite received the recognition it deserved. Right from its opening moments, the film transports you into a world filled with a vivid imagination, where highly stylized art and skillful animation tell a story of love, devotion, courage, and hope.
The themes of the film are heavy and thought-provoking, mainly because Don Bluth clearly believes in the story with all his heart. His unflinching commitment to telling it exactly as he intended is what sets this film apart.
- Beautifully animated with stunning visuals and a Gothic atmosphere
- Well-crafted and engaging story with strong themes of love, devotion, courage, and leadership
- Memorable and well-developed characters, including the brave Mrs. Brisby, the dashing Justin, and the wise Nicodemus
- Phenomenal score by Jerry Goldsmith that perfectly matches the tone of the film
- A dark and mature movie that tackles complex themes and questions the duality of nature versus science
- The film did not receive the recognition and appreciation it deserved upon release