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The Secret Of NIMH

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Don Bluth
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Written by Don Bluth,
Robert C. O'Brien,
Will Finn,
Gary Goldman,
John Pomeroy
Starring Elizabeth Hartman
Derek Jacobi
Dom DeLuise
John Carradine
Arthur Malet
Hermione Baddeley
Peter Strauss
Paul Shenar
Shannen Doherty
Wil Wheaton
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Studio Aurora Productions
Don Bluth Productions
United Artists
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co. (theatrical)
20th Century Fox (2007 DVD release)
Release date(s) July 2, 1982 (USA)
October 22, 1982 (Brazil)
Running time 82 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget US$7 million
Gross revenue US$14,665,733
Followed by The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue

The Secret of NIMH (alternatively spelled The Secret of N.I.M.H.) is a 1982 animated film adaptation of the Newbery Medal-winning book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Mrs. Frisby's name is changed to "Brisby" in the film due to trademark concerns with Frisbee discs), written by author Robert C. O'Brien. The title of the movie was later used for newer editions of the book. It was directed by Don Bluth, produced by Aurora Pictures, and released by United Artists, in the summer of 1982.



Mrs. Brisby, a shy and timid field mouse, lives in a cinder block with her children on the Fitzgibbons' farm. She is preparing to move her family out of the field they live in as plowing time approaches; however, her son Timothy has fallen ill. She visits Mr. Ages, another mouse and old friend of her late husband, who provides her with some medicine from his laboratory. Mr. Ages warns her that Timothy cannot go outside for at least three weeks or he will die. On her way back home she encounters Jeremy, a clumsy but compassionate crow.

The next day spring plowing begins, and though Mrs. Brisby is able to stop the tractor, she knows she must come up with another plan. With the help of Jeremy she visits the Great Owl, a wise creature living in the nearby woods, to ask for help. He tells her to visit a mysterious group of rats who live beneath a rose bush on the farm and ask for Nicodemus.

Mrs. Brisby goes to the rats' home, where she is amazed to see their use of electricity and other human technology. She meets Nicodemus, the wise and mystical leader of the rats, and Justin, an extremely kind and friendly rat who is the Captain of the Guards. She learns that her late husband, along with the rats and Mr. Ages, was a part of a series of experiments at a place known as NIMH (which stands for the National Institute of Mental Health). The experiments had boosted their intelligence to human level, allowing them to easily escape. However, the rats have concocted "The Plan", which is to leave the farm and live without stealing electiricity from humans. Nicodemus then gives Mrs. Brisby an amulet that gives magical power when its wearer is courageous.

Because of her husband's prior relationship with the rats, they agree to help Mrs. Brisby move her home out of the path of the plow. Mrs. Brisby volunteers to drug the Fitzgibbon's cat, Dragon, so that they can complete the move safely. Only mice are small enough to fit through the mouse hole leading to the house, and Jonathan was killed by Dragon while trying. Later that night, she successfully puts the drug into the cat's food dish, but the Fitzgibbon's son Billy catches her and convinces his mother to let him keep her as a pet. While trapped in a birdcage, she overhears a telephone conversation between Mr. Fitzgibbon and NIMH and learns that NIMH intends to come to the farm to exterminate the rats the next day. She manages to escape from the cage and runs off to warn Justin.

Meanwhile, the rats are completing the move during a thunderstorm. However, Jenner and his hesitant accomplice Sullivan, who wish to remain in the rose bush, kill Nicodemus, making it look like an accident. Mrs. Brisby arrives and tries to convince the rats that NIMH is coming and that they must leave immediately. Jenner becomes angry and knocks her down. Justin rushes to Mrs. Brisby's aid, and a sword fight between him and Jenner ensues, which ends with Sullivan, himself mortally wounded, killing Jenner and saving Justin's life.

Mrs. Brisby suddenly realizes that the house is sinking in the mud it landed in. Despite the best efforts of the rats, they are unable to pull it from the mud. However, Mrs. Brisby's will to save her children gives power to the amulet, which she uses to lift the house out of the mud and move it to safety from the plow. The next morning, the rats have already gone to Thorn Valley with Justin as their new leader and Timothy has begun to recover. Jeremy also finds "Miss Right", an equally clumsy crow, and the two fly away together.


* Hartman's final role before her retirement from acting, and eventual suicide.


Mrs. Brisby meets Nicodemus. Backlighting techniques are used in this scene to give Nicodemus's eyes a bright glow.

The Secret of NIMH was the first feature film to be directed by Don Bluth. In September 1979 he, fellow animators Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy, and eight other animation staff left Walt Disney Productions animation department to set up their own independent studio, Don Bluth Productions. The studio worked at first out of Bluth's house and garage, but moved to a two-story, 5,500-square-foot (510 m2) facility in Studio City several months later. After completing work on several shorter projects, including a two-minute animated sequence for the film Xanadu, the studio forged a deal with Aurora Productions, a film-making partnership established by former Disney executives.[1]

The rights to the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH had reportedly been offered to Disney in 1972 but turned down.[2] At Bluth, Goldman and Pomeroy's request, Aurora Productions acquired the film rights, and offered Don Bluth Productions a budget of US$ 5.7 million and 30 months to complete the film, tighter in both budget and schedule than most Disney animated features at the time. The studio set out with the explicit goal in mind of returning feature animation to its “golden era”, concentrating on strong characters and story, and experimenting with unusual and often more labor-intensive animation techniques.[3] Bluth believed older techniques were being abandoned in favor of lower production costs, and the only way animation could survive was to continue traditional production methods. Among the techniques experimented with on The Secret of NIMH were multiple passes on the camera to achieve transparent shadows, and backlit animation (where animated mattes are shot with light shining through color gels to produce glowing areas for artificial light and fire effects), multiple color palettes for characters to fit in different lighting situations, from daylight, to night, to warm environments to underwater. Mrs Brisby had 46 different lighting situations, therefore there were 46 different color palettes, or lists of color, for her. Two modern, computerized versions of the multiplane camera were also manufactured for this production.[4]

To achieve the film's detailed full animation while keeping to the tight budget, the studio strove to keep any waste of time and resources to a minimum. The crew often worked long hours with no immediate financial reward (though they were offered a cut of the film's profits, a practice common for producers, directors and stars of live action films but never before offered to artists on an animated feature); producer Gary Goldman recalled working 110 hour weeks during the final six months of production.[2] Around 100 in-house staff worked on the film, with the labor-intensive cel painting farmed out to 45 people working from home.[5] Many minor roles, including incidental and crowd voice work, were filled in by the in-house staff. The final cost of the film was US$ 6.385M. The producers, Bluth, Goldman, Pomeroy and the executive producers at Aurora mortgaged their homes collectively for $700,000 to complete the film, with an agreement that their investment would be the first money to be repaid.

During the film's production, Aurora contacted Wham-O, the manufacturers of Frisbee flying discs, with concerns about possible trademark infringements if the "Mrs. Frisby" name in O'Brien's original book was used in the movie. Wham-O rejected Aurora's request for waiver to use the same-sounding name to their "Frisbee", in the movie. Aurora informed Bluth & company that Mrs. Frisby's name would have to be altered. By then, the voice work had already been recorded for the film, so the name change to "Mrs. Brisby" necessitated a combination of re-recording some lines and, because John Carradine was unavailable for further recordings, careful sound editing had to be performed, taking the "B" sound of another word from Carradine's recorded lines, and replace the "F" sound with the "B" sound, altering the name from "Frisby" to "Brisby".[2]


Home media

The Secret of NIMH was also released to home video. It was released in Brazil on VHS for the first time on January 11, 1994 from Abril Vídeo.

It saw a DVD release for the first time on November 17, 1998.

In 2007, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman oversaw a high-definition restoration of the film which was released on June 19, 2007 in a 2- disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc set under the "Family Fun Edition" label. Improvements in the transfer from the 1998 DVD and Blu-ray include some color correction, and dirt and dust removal from the cells.[6]


In the last week of May, 2009, The Secret of NIMH was made available for viewing on Hulu, an internet-based, commercial supported, video on demand service.


The film garnered critical acclaim for being one of the most vibrantly animated films of its time and has earned a 94% "fresh" approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.[7] Despite good reviews, the film only did moderately well at the box office, attributed to a combination of poor promotion, regionally-staggered release dates and competition from the Steven Spielberg blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.[8]


The Secret of NIMH: Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack by Various Artists
Released July 2, 1982
Genre Soundtrack
Length 48:17
Label MCA Records (1982)
Varese Sarabande (1995)
Producer Jerry Goldsmith
Professional reviews
Don Bluth Music of Films chronology
- The Secret of NIMH
An American Tail

The Secret of NIMH: Original Soundtrack contains songs from the film written by Jerry Goldsmith, and performed by Paul H. Williams and Sally Stevens. It was released on July 2, 1982 on Vinyl and audio cassette and re-released on March 3, 1995 on CD.

  1. Main Title - Instrumental
  2. Allergic Reaction/Athletic Type - Instrumental
  3. Flying Dreams Lullaby" - Sally Stevens
  4. The Tractor - Instrumental
  5. The Sentry Reel/The Story of NIMH - Instrumental
  6. Escape from NIMH/In Disguise - Instrumental
  7. Flying Dreams - Paul H. Williams
  8. Step Inside My House - Instrumental
  9. No Thanks - Instrumental
  10. Moving Day - Instrumental
  11. The House Rising - Instrumental
  12. Flying High/End Title - Instrumental


  1. ^ Beck, Jerry (October 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 243–4. ISBN 1-556-52591-5.  
  2. ^ a b c Cawley, John (October 1991). "The Secret of N.I.M.H.". The Animated Films of Don Bluth. Image Pub of New York. ISBN 0-685-50334-8.  
  3. ^ Counts, Kyle (February 1982). "Coming: The Secret of NIMH". Cinefantastique.  
  4. ^ Mandell, Paul (June 1982). "Interview with Dorse Lanpher". Fantastic Films. Retrieved 2007-01-30.  
  5. ^ McDaniel, Adam. "Remembering NIMH: An Interview with Don Bluth Studios". Retrieved 2007-01-30.  
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Beck, Jerry (1996-06-01). "Don Bluth Goes Independent". Animation World Magazine.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Secret of NIMH is a 1982 film.

Directed by Don Bluth. Story adaptation by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy and Will Finn (from the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Right before your eyes and beyond your wildest dreams



  • (after lighting a candle) Jonathan Brisby was killed today while helping with the plan. It is four years since our departure from NIMH, and our world is changing. We cannot stay here much longer. (While writing words in a book) Jonathan was a dear friend. I am lost in knowing how to help his widow. She knows nothing of us or the plan. (Reloading ink for fountain pen) Perhaps best that I do nothing at present. (As he quickly writes signature) I shall miss him. (Holding and looking at amulet) Jonathan, wherever you are, your thoughts must comfort her tonight. She’ll be waiting, and you will not return. (as he puts away amulet in a case, closing it) Farewell, my friend.
  • (when he gives Mrs. Brisby the amulet, and again later when she discovers its power) Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it’s there.


  • [repeated line] Excuse me. Pardon me.
  • Right. When you're right, you're right. And you're right.
  • If I had actually been near a cat, I'd be sneezing my brains out. (as Dragon, the Fitzgibbons' cat, comes closer) See, I'm allergic to--kaa... I'm allergic to--kay... I'm allergic to uh... hmm... hmm... hmm... Ah-choo!
  • [mesmerized by the amulet] A sparkley!

Auntie Shrew

  • Cast not pearls before swine, I always say, and that includes impudent piglets. Good day!
  • (responding to Mrs. Brisby) I came here to inform you that the frost is off the ground, and moving day is at hand. Prepare to move your very, very odd family. Good day!


(inside a derelict tractor)
Mrs. Brisby: Mr. Ages, I know you don't like visitors, but this is an emergency. Please--
[Suddenly an explosion shatters the tractor, sending Mr. Ages down in a basket. Mrs. Brisby comes over to him as he nears the basket.]
Mr. Ages: Ma--(coughs)—Madam, that is an emergency!

Jeremy: (after splashing in water) Excuse me. Pardon me. (coughs)
Mrs. Brisby: You keep making all that noise and Dragon will hear you, if he hasn't already.
Jeremy: Wouldn't you sing too, I mean... (flapping his wings and drying himself off) if you felt... (laughs) if you felt the call of the wild?
Mrs. Brisby: I would not, if I knew there was a cat nearby. (snapping string with teeth and setting Jeremy's claw free)
Jeremy: But she's out there somewhere, and when I find her, I'll feel it, way down in my wishbone. I-- What cat?

(Twice during the film)
Auntie Shrew: Brisby!
Teresa: Oh, Auntie Shrew.
Cynthia: Oh, Auntie.
Martin: Oh, no!

Teresa: (long after Auntie Shrew has gone) What are you doing here?
Jeremy: It's a good question, but don't ask. The legs. The legs! The legs! (collapses with a thud)
Cynthia: (mournfully, coming up to Jeremy's beak) Oh, the poor turkey fell down!

(As Nicodemus and Mrs. Brisby leave)
Sullivan: I don't get it.
Jenner: (snickering) With Nicodemus out of the way, what's to stop us from taking over?
Sullivan: Jenner, you can't kill Nicodemus.
Jenner: No taste for blood, huh? (flicks Sullivan on the nose) They've taken the animal out of you.
Sullivan: What if we're discovered?
Jenner: Listen. The Brisby house is a large cement block. In the moving, what if it should fall?
Sullivan: An accident?
Jenner: Of course! Cut the lines, and the weight of it will crush his bones.
Sullivan: It's risky.
Jenner: Once rid of Nicodemus, the plan will die. We can stay here as long as we like.
Sullivan: What about Justin?
Jenner: Leave him to me... (echoing) to me... to me...

Jenner: (knowing of Nicodemus’ plan) I’ve learned this much — take what you can...when you can.
Justin: Then you’ve learned nothing!

Justin: Friends, tonight we journey to Thorn Valley. We will leave no evidence that the rats of NIMH ever existed. Come...

Jenner: (Laughs) We were just talking about you.
Justin: That's relieving, Jenner. Usually you're screaming about us.

Timmy: (from inside his room) Mommy, I'm tired of bed. I want to get up.
Mrs. Brisby: (responding from outside) Well, you're not getting up.

External link

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The Secret Of NIMH
Directed by Don Bluth
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Written by Don Bluth
Robert C. O'Brien
Will Finn
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Starring Elizabeth Hartman
Derek Jacobi
Dom DeLuise
John Carradine
Arthur Malet
Hermione Baddeley
Peter Strauss
Paul Shenar
Shannen Doherty
Wil Wheaton
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co. (theatrical)
20th Century Fox (2007 DVD release)
Release date(s) July 2, 1982 (USA)
October 22, 1982 (Brazil)
Running time 82 minutes
Language English
Budget US$7 million
Gross revenue US$14,665,733
Followed by The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue

The Secret of NIMH is an animated movie directed by Don Bluth and released by his studio United Artists in 1982. The movie was based on Robert C. O'Brien's children's book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. (The main character's name was changed to "Brisby", so that its audiences would not take its sound for the Frisbee toy.) Bluth began the idea of creating this movie after disagrement with Disney over The Fox and the Hound. Before that he worked with the previous Disney animated movie which was also about mice: The Rescuers. Later he made another animated movie about mice called An American Tail, which came out in 1986.


The story

A widow mouse named Mrs. Brisby does what she can to move her home, a stone block, before humans invade her place with a tractor. To do that, she must find help from a comic, love-seeking crow and a group of very smart rats from NIMH, the National Institute of Mental Health. In order to get the task done, she must see the leader of the rats, an old magician named Nicodemus, for a glowing red amulet that could rescue her home and her children (Martin, Teresa, Cynthia and a sick Timothy). She also learns, from him, a secret about his group that could forever change her life.


  • Elizabeth Hartman as Mrs. Brisby*
  • John Carradine as Great Owl
  • Dom DeLuise as Jeremy
  • Derek Jacobi as Nicodemus
  • Arthur Malet as Mr. Ages
  • Hermione Baddeley as Auntie Shrew
  • Peter Strauss as Justin
  • Paul Shenar as Jenner
  • Aldo Ray as Sullivan
  • Shannen Doherty as Teresa Brisby
  • Jodi Hicks as Cynthia Brisby
  • Wil Wheaton as Martin Brisby
  • Ian Fried as Timothy "Timmy" Brisby
  • Tom Hatten as Farmer Paul Fitzgibbons
  • Lucille Bliss as Mrs. Beth Fitzgibbons
  • Joshua Lawrence as Billy Fitzgibbon
  • Edie McClurg as Miss Right
  • Norbert Auerbach as Councilman 1
  • Dick Kleiner as Councilman 2
  • Charles Champlin as Councilman 3

* Hartman's final role before her retirement from acting, and eventual suicide.


In spite of its critical success, this movie had a mediocre run at the box office, mostly because of a much bigger rival, Steven Spielberg's E. T. (Ironically, Spielberg saw the Bluth movie and asked its director to work on An American Tail.)

Many fans and critics have called NIMH Don Bluth's most important work and magnum opus and masterpiece. Even though this movie was not a big box office success, An American Tail and 1997's Anastasia became his most successful works in later years.


In 1998, MGM released a direct-to-video sequel called The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. In the sequel, Timothy goes to a place called Thorn Valley because he wants to become a hero like his father. His brother Martin has turned evil (although he does not want to), and Timothy must fight him in order to save the Rats of NIMH. At Thorn Valley Timothy learns from a young girl mouse that the mice who were thought to have been killed during the escape from NIMH are still alive, so he and the rats try to rescue them.

The sequel was hated by the fans of the first movie and the movie critics because of its clichéd and familiar storyline, and because many people thought that the magic of Don Bluth's dark and original NIHM was destoryed by the sequel, because MGM toned down the darkness of the story.

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