Writing this essay, I remember what a HUGE impact this movie had on me and my taste as a young child.
It is a moving picture full of plot, intrigue, interesting characters, fantasy elements, action, violence, and witty comic relief (thank you Dom).
This animated feature is the story of a mother with a dilemma. It is “moving day” when everyone leaves their hovels for the spring as the farmers begin to plow their fields and grow their crops. The problem, her son Timmy has a terrible case of pneumonia, and any attempt on a move from his bed could kill him. What is a mother to do?
Did I mention mom is a mouse?
“The Secret of NIMH” is one of the first full length animated feature films that I remember watching, on HBO, for the first time while sitting in my home without getting up to go do something else. I didn’t want to look away. There are things in my life that have stayed with me from that film to this day. There are a lot of cool names to give your pets from this movie. My favorite being Brutus, which I named my first dog ever. He was a pit bull and he was my best friend. I feel that if I ever got a dog again, I’d name it Brutus for a boy or Brisby for a girl. The names are so cool.
Another great name, villainous as it was, is Jenner. Our villain that shows up late in the game like all of the best of them. I’d probably name a male cat Jenner…or a Pomeranian.
Mrs. Brisby sets out on a quest to save her youngest child Timmy, and seeks guidance from The Great Owl, who informs her of the Rats of NIMH that preside in the rosebush by the farmer’s home. They should be able to aid her in moving her home so that Timmy can stay safely in his bed, while placing their home safe from the farmer’s reach. Along the way she learns so much about her recently deceased husband Jonathon and why everyone seems to know how important he was…that is, everyone except her.
There are subplots of murder that arise among the politics within the Rats’ new society. Mrs. Brisby is caught right in the middle of one of the most important periods of the Rats’ community as she seeks their aid in saving her son’s life.
I mentioned there was comic relief as well. Jeremy the klutzy crow, voiced by the late great Dom DeLuise steals the show with very limited scenes. He is another line of “lovable loser” that not only trips over everything, he gets used and abused by almost everyone he interacts with.
At the end of the day, the names in this movie stick with you: Nicodemus, Jenner, Brutus, Mr. Ages, Sullivan, Brisby, and who could forget–nay, who hasn’t had their very own–Auntie Shrew.
I think the name Brutus resonates with me because of the affect it had on my parents when they viewed the movie. Brutus, in the picture, has no lines. He is a wild eyed rat that guards the rosebush with a rather large, menacing spear. We see him in one unforgettable scene when he terrorizes Mrs. Brisby when she tries to enter the rosebush for the first time. After the assault, she runs into Mr. Ages who aids her in accessing the rosebush. She makes it clear to him that she cannot go back the way she just came as a rat almost murdered her for doing so last time.
“That’s just Brutus,” said Mr. Ages as an annoyed afterthought.
My parents laughed at the name, and found it very fitting for the homicidal rat that we had just witnessed. That experience has stuck with me all of these years, and I have always enjoyed that name ever since.
This is a great family film for all ages, with a great theme and story line that maintains a great pace. Take the time to listen to the song through the credits. It states clearly the “key” to unlock any door. John, Paul, George, and Ringo concur.