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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Drama > Science > The Secret Of NIMH – Family Fun Edition (MGM)

The Secret Of NIMH – Family Fun Edition (MGM)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C     Film: B-



Reissued on DVD in a new double set is The Secret of NIMH - Family Fun Edition.  The film that was a creative venture for Don Bluth in 1982 was a film adaptation of the award winning book Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH.  The United Artists released film is both imaginative and fun.  After 25 years the film also holds up pretty well against the Finding Nemos and Shreks of today.  The storyline of this epic film chronicles the hardships of Mrs. Brisby (a delightful field mouse) as she attempts to move her and her family’s house out of the upcoming ‘plow season.’  To accomplish this feet Mrs. Brisby visits The Great Owl who tells her she will find what she needs beneath the farm’s rose bush.  Under the rose bush Mrs. Brisby finds a colony of rats who live much like humans; they can read, write, use electricity, and have a plethora of other human-like qualities.


Not after long Mrs. Brisby finds out that the reason the rats are so intelligent is due to a magic amulet that they received from N.I.M.H.  NIMH is revealed earlier to be The National Institute of Mental health where all the rats were experimented on and later escaped from.  The rats all agree to help Mrs. Brisby, but inform her that they are getting weary of relying on humans for food and electricity and soon will be leaving the farm (ambitious little rats that they are).  The leader of the rats hands over the magic amulet to Mrs. Brisby and tells her to hold it close and tell no one.  Not every rat is so happy of the plan to leave the farm and treason is afoot.  Will Mrs. Brisby save her family?  Will that rats find the home they so desire?  Will someone please tell this reviewer where to the mental health facility is?  For all these answers and more watch The Secret of NIMH!


Overall, the film was entertaining, well scripted, and had unique and detailed animation style.  The Secret of NIMH has gained a bit of a cult following over the years and is clearly understandable why.  The film is both plot intensive as well as having a dark edge that most children’s films do not explore.  With secrets and murder flowing through the plot how could it not be dark?  Yes I just said murder *gasp* Don Bluth did an excellent job of adapting this film from the original novel and it remains a classic.


The technical aspects of this newly released YET unrestored animated feature are not greatly improved over the previous 1998 DVD release.  The picture is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image as issued in the theater that is far visually superior than either the 1998 full screen release or the 1.33 X 1 release that is also viewable on this 2 disc set.  Since the picture has not been greatly improved many issues still exist with the occasional blurriness of the picture quality, as well as the colors seeming to have light/dark issues at times.  The sound is presented in a new Dolby Digital Surround as opposed to the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo of the 1998 release, but still remains lack luster in this reviewer’s ears.  The sound definitely shows the film’s age, maybe they should go with DTS next time?


There are a few infrequent occurrences of high/low errors in which the sound seems to be unusually low, but those instances are few.  The sound is also somewhat compressed, for some mysterious reason.  Maybe the High Definition release will be better, since we know just this year Don Bluth FULLY restored the 1982 film.  The extras found on Disc 2 are interesting but could be better.  There exists one ‘Behind the Scenes Feature’ that this reviewer found to be insightful, but in the end could have been better; as well as 5 DVD games that were just BLAH! Once again, look forward to the High Definition release of the film.


The secret to The Secret of NIMH is the heart behind the film.  In 1982 Disney was floundering to make a solid release and was even offered NIMH to create.  Fortunately for Don Bluth Disney turned down the idea sighting the film concept as too detailed and dark (Oh no not fresh ideas!).  Though the film lacked in box office revenue originally, over the past 25 years it has gained cult status and is critically acclaimed.  The bravest of hearts live in the meekest of mice.



-   Michael P Dougherty II 


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