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18.02.2016
The Rats were the subject of animal research, described by the leader of the Rats as ?unspeakable tortures?. A more subtle, but pervasive, topic in The Secret of NIMH is the ambivalence people show towards animals in general.
More evidence of Bluth?s general disinterest of humans can be found in the abomination that is the housecat, Dragon.
One of the central themes of The Secret of NIMH is that of sacrifice, and its essential nature in group dynamics. For the animals in the world of the film, humans are giant and powerful but also ignorant and arrogant beings who are best avoided at virtually any cost. If I were to hazard a guess, Don Bluth had a fair share of contempt for the human race and its inability to live as part of a natural system. What seals the recommendation for NIMH is that its imagery of the film flaunts both charm and visceral power. Film 1: For an animated movie about talking animals, The Plague Dogs is a surprisingly bleak and messed up film, from beginning to end. Where a Disney movie would now turn into a sort of road-picture adventure, Plague Dogs takes a more realistic and miserable approach. This is a straight up PG-13 cartoon, and many parents would probably not feel good about showing it to their kids. Film 2: The birth of The Secret of NIMH is one of the great fuck-you success stories of Hollywood. It was surely this ballsy partnership that set them on the path to making The Secret of NIMH, a film that outwardly looks and moves like a Disney film, but is so much darker and weirder than anything the Mouse House would ever have allowed. Whereas Plague Dogs feels like a thoroughly sophisticated animated film, meant for adults, NIMH is almost more fucked up for kids because it seems so similar to classic Disney.
Don Bluth's The Secret of NIMH is one of those classic animated movies that gave some sensitive children of the '80s nightmares. Don Bluth's THE SECRET OF NIMH is an exquisitely drawn, colorfully animated feature about Mrs. Words are minced as sparingly as the images, as you see massive needles puncturing the abdomens of various animal subjects with nauseating ?plunk? sounds. The animals are heroic, clever, smart, dumb, reckless, thoughtful, malevolent, or horny; none of them are indifferent to the fate of the meadow and its inhabitants. Numerous examples can be found of characters who sacrifice a great deal for the common good, or even for the benefit of an individual.
The Rats violate this rule by stealing from them, sneaking electrical cords out to their home in an attempt to? well, I?m not sure what they have to gain by creating elaborately lit sparkle shows, but at least they?re having fun with it. Or perhaps the independence of the Rats was symbolic of his secession from Disney, and the success of the film was one final ?fuck you? to the old man.
Most of the films that I feel are excellent for children to watch in order to avoid growing up selfish and insular have death and its randomness as a primary subject. The film sweeps effortlessly from the beauty of the meadow at dawn to the sinister cave of the wise owl (voiced by John Carradine), the view of the glittering garden of the rosebush is interrupted by the towering sentry, Brutus.
Unsurprisingly, it is based on a book by Richard Adams, who is best remembered for a certain other bleak and messed up book about animals, Watership Down.
We begin in an animal testing facility in Northern England, where vivisection and other experimentation for its own sake is being carried out on canines. Dogs, like Watership Down, has very stripped down style that serves to accentuate the bleak nature of the film. Brisby, a brave mother field mouse who struggles to save her family's home from a farmer's plow. DNA is restructured as a rat writhes in pain ? the result is that the rats and mice develop intelligence, enough to understand people. He is as big as a building, is missing one eye, and hates everything within impaling distance. One faction of the Rats wishes to move far away to a valley where farming is impossible, to live without depending on humans at all, perhaps a permeation of the Rats consider themselves superior to people in every way. Dragon casts a vicious shadow, and is probably the reason I hate housecats with every fucking atom in my body.


It only makes sense that Martin Rosen, the same man who destroyed countless childhoods with his Watership adaptation in 1978, is responsible for this film too. Snitter (voiced with croaky despair by John Hurt), a small terrier, has undergone repeated brain surgeries and has a gnarly scar on the top of his head from where he’s been opened up.
They don’t know much of anything about surviving in the wild, and hunger is a constant issue.
It is a utilitarian style, as though the filmmaker were using animation purely because it was the only means possible to accurately tell the story of two dogs and a fox. The upside of the graphic reproduction was a speedier process, plus a preservation of some of the spontaneity found in the pencil sketches. Plague Dogs is bleak misery, with the lab scenes having a similar kind of wanton, pointless cruelty as a concentration camp, and the film can easily be taken as a piece of anti-animal testing propaganda. However, this is being pitched as something akin to NIMH: Origins, dealing with how a crew of lab rats get their smarts. She soon discovers she needs the help of the strange, intelligent rats who live beneath the nearby rosebush in an intricate city. Okay, the film is short on realism (all animals understand human language anyway, weapons are electrified, and why was Brisby living in an area that is plowed yearly, anyway?), but NIMH isn?t meant to spark reasoned debate on animal rights. One of the few humans shown in the film resolves to bulldoze the rosebush that the Rats call home, even though he is well aware of their existence. Brisby is killed while drugging the cat, an activity that allows the Rats to prepare for their eventual move. The tractor rips the land and destroys everyone in its path, Dragon kills the hero?s husband, a Rat is crushed with a cinderblock and two others stabbed to death, and a host of mice are sucked to their deaths in a cavernous air passage. The animation is kinetic and gives every action scene tension as real as the movie is fantastic, escapist and an allegory.
You pay attention to new aspects and journey down unfamiliar avenues when you view films through Double Feature Goggles.
Rowf (Christopher Benjamin), a black lab, has been repeatedly thrown in a water tank and left to swim around until he drowns from exhaustion, only to be revived and tossed in again on a future day.
They end up befriending a wily fox, who helps them find food, but the fox can do little help their problems with humans (amongst whom rumors are erroneously spreading that the dogs are carrying the bubonic plague). Bluth left Disney in the late 70’s and took with him ten other animators to form Don Bluth Productions.
Brisby (Elizabeth Hartman), a timid field mouse caught in a horrible bind (the character’s name was changed so as not to be confused with the Frisbee toy).
Brisby visits the Great Owl, (goddamn Carradine and that haunting, resonating voice of his).
Though the film used zero rotoscoping (the tracing of live-action footage), the film has a very natural, real feel to it.
But it also deprived the animation of some of its class (Walt apparently hated it, but couldn’t argue with all the money he was saving by cutting the inking stage). Brisby and the Rats of NIMH, the film version might be the high point of Don Bluth's impressive animated output. It is meant to evoke a point of view: animals subjected to testing are not interested in how people benefit from it.
In fact, he wants the rosebush flattened because of the Rats and is obviously excited about it. Nicodemus is murdered and Rats are injured while they move the Brisby home, which benefits only Timothy, Mrs.
A body count of at least 20 is respectable for an ?80s action movie ? for an animated film, the number is astonishing and for it the director deserves a medal. No matter how animation progresses technologically, this film will age remarkably well, because its agenda and intelligence are both timeless.
After successfully creating a couple shorts, Bluth was looking for financial backing to make a feature.
She needs to move her family before a farmer destroys her home, but her youngest son is too sick to be moved. Bluth really went bonkers with backlit animation techniques, which he used to make the amulet Nicodemus gives Mrs.


There is nothing impressionistic or expressionistic in the character design, character animation, or backdrops. NIMH was Bluth’s chance to return animation to its glory days, he felt, and the painstaking work he and his team put in shows.
Seen only in flashbacks, the lab is scary, but it is also the genesis story for all our hyper-intelligent characters. What I saw in the movie pushed me to read up on animal research, and as an eight year old kid I learned what an LD-50 test is and how all pharmaceuticals are tested extensively, at lethal doses, on legions of lab animals before a person would ever ingest them. Regardless of how you feel about rats, the human characters here are bloodless and mindless, driven by mechanical concerns. Death comes to us all, and the only reasonable wish a person could have is that we meet it on our feet. And I’m the kind of guy who derives just as much pleasure from creating a double feature as I do from watching one. He found the perfect partner in Aurora Productions, a production company founded by some disenchanted former Disney executives. So she seeks the wisdom of the Great Owl (John Carradine lending his ominously craggy pipes), who tells her to find the secret cabal of hyper-intelligent rats that live beneath the farm’s rose bush and speak with Nicodemus (Derek Jacobi). Brisby glow, but also to make all the eyeballs of the creepier character glow ominously too. The color palette of NIMH is ridiculous, the likes of which had not been seen in an animated film in decades – as Disney had moved towards a fairly bland coloring scheme.
So in a sense, it is anti-animal testing in the same way the Incredible Hulk was anti-gamma radiation testing. From the Hitchcockian flashback sequence revealing the rats' secret to the moral questions raised about animal testing, this film is a beautiful example of how animation can expertly tell a gripping story while still remaining appropriate and entertaining for children. Even cosmetic or cleaning products are injected, sprayed, or force-fed to entire warehouses full of animals to find out not whether the products are dangerous or lethal, but how much or little it takes of a given chemical to cause blindness, seizure, gastrointestinal bleeding, or death.
The animals in the film might be anthropomorphized beyond recognition, but it?s done to create a world that bloodless and mechanical humans can understand and relate to. Aside from amusing myself, hopefully I can give some people ideas for their next movie night. She does, finding a whole technologically advanced civilization of rats who steal electricity from the farmer. Widely considered to be Bluth's masterpiece, THE SECRET OF NIMH features a strong cast of vocal talent, including Derek Jacobi, John Carradine, Dom DeLuise, Elizabeth Hartman, Wil Wheaton, and Shannen Doherty. Personally, even animal testing that is meant to medically benefit humans is hardly necessary ? we cover the earth, and members of our species live twice as long as our genetics intended.
Interestingly, the Rats are political, each attempting to edge out a rival, striving to make their ambitions that of the rest of the group.
Inscribed on the back: ?Courage of the heart is very rare? the Stone has a power, when it is there?, the Stone represents this quality of sacrifice, which is basic and sometimes a necessity for the survival of the animal community. There’s just something about the rhythm of this film that feels dark and off-putting.
The Secret of NIMH confronts this topic head-on; the generation of children who saw it were not to be excused an opinion on a contentious matter through pleading ignorance. In reality, gregarious animal groups have far more complex relationships than people often realize ? baboons, meerkats, elephants, rats, and even insect groups have their own complex rules of interaction with nuance approaching human behavior. It seems that everyone pays dearly for this quality, except for the humans, who show no such altruism.
See, this isn’t just a standard animated animal tale with anthropomorphic rats and mice. These particular rodents came from a testing facility called NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health). Because of experiments done to the rodents, the rats and mice learned to read and eventually escaped.



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