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The Secret of NIMH

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The Secret Of NIMH
Directed byDon Bluth
Produced byDon Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Written byDon Bluth
Robert C. O'Brien
Will Finn
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
StarringElizabeth Hartman
Derek Jacobi
Dom DeLuise
John Carradine
Arthur Malet
Hermione Baddeley
Peter Strauss
Paul Shenar
Shannen Doherty
Wil Wheaton
Music byJerry Goldsmith
Distributed byMGM/UA Entertainment Co. (theatrical)
20th Century Fox (2007 DVD release)
Release date
July 2, 1982 (USA)
October 22, 1982 (Brazil)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
BudgetUS$7 million
Box officeUS$14,665,733

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 disagreement 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.


* 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 destroyed by the sequel, because MGM toned down the darkness of the story.

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