Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Secret of NIMH
The Secret of NIMH; animated fantasy, USA, 1982; D: Don Bluth, S: Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, Arthur Malet, Dom DeLuise, John Carradine
Mrs. Brisby is a small, fragile mouse who lives in a box on a field. She has 4 children while one of them is very sick, so she asks her friend Mr. Ages to give her some medicine. While returning, she meets the clumsy Crow, Jeremy, and unties her from ribbons until a cat attacks them. The land owner starts to plow with his tractor towards Brisby's house, but Brisby aunt stops him destroying the fuel supply to him machine. From a mysterious owl, Mrs. Brisby gets an advice to persuade the rats in the bushes to pull out her home to safety. Her deceased husband Jonathan was, together with the rats, a guinea pig in a laboratory which artificially gave them intelligence. The evil rat sabotages the evacuation, but Justin kills him. Mrs. Brisby uses her magic amulet to pull out her home to safety.
One cannot express in words what a pity it is that whenever experts are debating about animation, they almost never mention the unjustifiably neglected Don Bluth, one of the the masters of animation in 80s and 90s who is up there with Miyazaki, Grimault and Disney. "The Secret of NIMH", Bluth's feature length animated film, suffers from weird stylish blend of mannerism and baroque, yet as a whole its a matter of a quality, suspenseful animated fantasy film more suited for the grown up than for the children. The best ingredient are the staggering, excellent drawings using the traditional form of animation as well as great dubbing (Elizabeth Hartman and Derek Jacobi particularly), whereas the story remains slightly without a point since the secret from the title turns out to be a laboratory for creating intelligent rats. Due to these and similar dark details, Bluth could not find funds from Disney. One of such serious scenes is the shot where rats get vaccinated and experience a metamorphosis, whereas in the background psychedelic blue smoke, shaped like a tunnel, is seen. The authors wonderfully set up the main heroine, Mrs. Brisby, who looks and seems like a fragile, gentle Mimosa, almost with a pregnant look, even though her magical powers at the end seem rather out of a blue.