Starring: Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Malet, Hermione Baddeley, Shannen Doherty, Wil Wheaton
Directed By: Don Bluth
Written By: Don Bluth, John Pomeroy, Gary Goldman, Will Finn
Rating: G (US) Running Time: 1 hr 22 min
Director and artist Don Bluth, and several other animators, tired of slipping standards at Disney at the time, defected to form their own production company. First working out of Bluth’s garage, before moving to office space in Study City, California. The Secret of NIMH was their first major feature project, and was put together in just over two years at a of cost approximately 7 million dollars. A difficult budget and schedule, even back in the 1980’s.
As a piece of animated art, it doesn’t get much better than The Secret of NIMH. With its beautiful matte painted backgrounds, and detailed character design, this film is amazing to look at. Bluth’s love of the craft, and attention to every detail are clear to see, as is his desire to tell a great story that can appeal to both children and adults. And while some of the plot’s details don’t stand up to a lot of scrutiny, the overall premise in NIMH is an interesting one, and the execution superb.
This may be all talking mice, rats and comical crows, but NIMH for the most part is pretty grim. Expect a brooding piece, with darker tones and themes. There are even moments of violence that result in some character’s deaths. This is not suitable for really young kids.
The high production quality of NIMH is best enjoyed in a movie theater. At home a HD screening on a nice TV and sound system is recommended. Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful score also needs to be heard! A screening on a tablet or phone is not advised.
I really enjoyed Mrs. Brisby’s meeting with the Great Owl, voiced by John Carradine. The animators do a really good job filling the frame with the old dusty web covered owl – putting the tiny Mrs. Brisby in front of a predator that wouldn’t usually think twice about having her for lunch.