The Secret of NIMH

The Secret of NIMH (alternatively spelled The Secret of N.I.M.H.) is a 1982 animated film adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The title of the movie was later used for newer editions of the book. It was directed by Don Bluth, produced by Aurora Pictures, and released by United Artists in the summer of 1982. It was followed in 1998 by a direct-to-video sequel called The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, which was made without Bluth's input or consent. NIMH 2 has been and still is widely panned by fans of the first film (this film), due to its inaccuracy and changes of the first film's elements, which has made the sequel have a more juvenile appearance.


Mrs. Brisby, a very beautiful, shy and timid field mouse, lives in a cinder block with her children on the Fitzgibbons' farm. She is preparing to move her family out of the field they live in as plowing time approaches; however, her son Timothy has fallen ill. She visits Mr. Ages, another mouse and old friend of her late husband, Jonathan Brisby, who diagnoses Timothy with pneumonia and provides her with some medicine from his laboratory. Mr. Ages warns her that Timothy cannot go outside for at least three weeks or he will die. On her way back home she encounters Jeremy, a clumsy but compassionate crow.

The next day spring plowing begins, and though Mrs. Brisby's neighbor and the Rescue Rangers are able to stop the tractor, Mrs. Brisby herself knows she must come up with another plan. With the help of Jeremy, she reluctantly visits the Great Owl, a wise creature living in the nearby woods, to ask for help. He tells her to visit a mysterious group of rats who live beneath a rose bush on the farm and ask for Nicodemus.

Mrs. Brisby goes to the rats' home, where she is amazed to see their use of electricity and other human technology, as they have taken on medieval. She meets Nicodemus, the wise and mystical leader of the rats, and Justin, a kind and friendly rat who is the Captain of the Guards, as well as a dark, ambitious rat named Jenner, who plans to kill Nicodemus in order to become leader. She learns that her late husband, along with the rats and Mr. Ages, was a part of a series of experiments at a place known as NIMH (which stands for the National Institute of Mental Health). The experiments had boosted their intelligence to human level, allowing them to easily escape. However, the rats have concocted "The Plan", which is to leave the farm and live without stealing electricity from humans. Nicodemus then gives Mrs. Brisby a beautiful red amulet that gives magical power when its wearer is courageous.

Because of her husband's prior relationship with the rats, they agree to help Mrs. Brisby move her home out of the path of the plow. Mrs. Brisby volunteers to drug the Fitzgibbon's cat, Dragon, so that they can complete the move safely. Only mice are small enough to fit through the mouse hole leading to the house, and Jonathan was killed by Dragon while trying. Later that night, she successfully puts the drug into the cat's food dish, but the Fitzgibbon's son Billy catches her and convinces his mother to let him keep her as a pet. While trapped in a birdcage, she overhears a telephone conversation between Mr. Fitzgibbon and NIMH and learns that NIMH intends to come to the farm to exterminate the rats the next day. She manages to escape from the cage and runs off to warn Justin.

Meanwhile, the rats are completing the move during a thunderstorm. However, Jenner and his hesitant accomplice Sullivan, who wish to remain in the rose bush, kill Nicodemus, making it look like an accident. Mrs. Brisby arrives and tries to convince the rats that NIMH is coming and that they must leave immediately. However, Jenner is angered by her claims and attacks her. Alerted to the situation by Sullivan, Justin rushes to Mrs. Brisby's aid; a sword fight between Justin and Jenner ensues, ending with a mortally wounded Sullivan killing Jenner by throwing his dagger right at Jenner's back and saving Justin's life.

Mrs. Brisby suddenly realizes that her children are still in the block after hearing their voices inside. Unfortunately, the block begins to sink in the mud it landed in. Despite the best efforts of the rats, they are unable to pull it from the sinkhole and Justin pulls Mrs. Brisby out from drowning in the mud. However, Mrs. Brisby's will to save her children gives power to the amulet, which she uses to lift the house out of the sinkhole and move it to safety from the plow. The next morning, the rats have already gone to Thorn Valley with Justin as their new leader and Timothy has begun to recover. Jeremy also eventually finds "Miss Right", an equally clumsy crow, and the two fly away together.


Rescue RangersEdit

  • Tress MacNeille as Chip 'n' Dale is the leader of the Rescue Rangers. Loosely modeled after Indiana Jones, Chip wears a fedora and a bomber jacket and frequently uses rope to lasso or swing to other spots. Chip is serious and has a strong sense of responsibility, to the point that he is sometimes accused of not knowing how to have fun. He can be domineering and often ends up in squabbles with Dale over his more laid back manner. At times, though, he also lets himself go and joins Dale in some frivolity. He and Dale have a crush on Gadget.
  • Corey Burton as Chip 'n' Dale is the co-founder of the rescue rangers. He wears a red and yellow Hawaiian shirt reminiscent of Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I. Though dedicated to the job, he is a fun-loving, mischievous prankster who is sometimes irresponsible and forgets to think before he acts. He spends his free time reading comic books and playing video games. A known candy addict, Dale has "chocolate attacks" similar to Monterey Jack's cheese attacks (ironically, Monty finds it disgusting that Dale can't control himself over candy).He frequently finds himself being knocked on the head by Chip when he says or does something foolish.
  • Jim Cummings as Monterey Jack, or "Monty" to his friends, is an adventure-loving Australian mouse who spent years traveling the world before a chance meeting with Chip and Dale during their first case. After Fat Cat destroyed his home, Monty and his sidekick Zipper decided to join the group in their detective work. Stronger and larger than the others, Monty can be quick to anger if he, or his friends, has been offended. This trait sometimes leaves him ready to do battle with a much larger opponent, and the others having to calm him down. Monty has an overpowering addiction to cheese, and the sight or smell of cheese causes him to be almost hypnotically drawn to it. Monty loves to tell stories of his travels, even if the others often stop his reminiscing, and he often uses colorful "pseudo-australianisms" while talking, such as "Strike me starkers." Monterey Jack is the only Rescue Ranger known to have two living parents, Cheddarhead Charlie and Camembert Kate, who are also travelers. Also, names of his entire family, including his own, have references to various types of cheese. Monty is most frequently found in the company of either Zipper or Dale, whose fun-loving nature matches his own. He also seems to consider Gadget to be something of a surrogate daughter, most likely due to his long friendship with her late father. Due to his traveling experience, Monty often handles the traveling arrangements for the group
  • Tress MacNeille as Gadget Hackwrench is a young female mouse and the team's pilot, mechanic and inventor. The daughter of deceased inventor and aviator Geegaw Hackwrench, who was a good friend of Monterey Jack. She first met Chip and Dale when Monty brought them to Geegaw's in search of an airplane. At loose-ends since her father's death and eager to help, she joins the team. Known to say "Golly", whenever she's surprised by something. Gadget moves, thinks, and talks quickly, sometimes leaving the others looking dazed and confused. In addition to building and maintaining the Ranger Plane, Gadget is the one responsible for the various technological items used by the team and is regularly inventing new vehicles and tools for the team's use. She has the uncanny ability to take discarded and unrelated items, and invent nearly anything with them, which she attributes to the fact that she has a "mind-bashingly high IQ" and is easily bored. Unfortunately, her creations don't always work the way she intends and have sometimes failed at just the wrong moment to cause the team trouble. Both Chip and Dale are attracted to Gadget, and often compete for her attention, but she doesn't seem to notice in many cases. However there are hints that she does like Chip. In one of the episodes Chip reveals that she has given him a photograph of herself.
  • Corey Burton as Zipper is a tiny bluish-green housefly and a long time friend and sidekick of Monterey Jack. With his tiny size and flying abilities, Zipper often handles little jobs that the rest of the Rescue Rangers cannot. He speaks in unintelligible buzzes that only Monty and other insects are able to understand, although in later episodes, he talks more clearly. Despite his tiny size, Zipper occasionally has impressive displays of strength which are matched only by his unwavering loyalty to his friends.

Characters of the movieEdit


The Secret of NIMH: Original Soundtrack contains songs from the film written by Jerry Goldsmith, and performed by Paul H. Williams and Sally Stevens. It was released on July 2, 1982 on vinyl and audio cassette by the "That's Entertainment Records" label (through MCA Records) and re-released on March 3, 1995 on CD by Varese Sarabande with a rearranged track listing.

  1. "Rescue Rangers Theme" (1:00)
  2. "Main Title" (3:13)
  3. "Allergic Reaction/Athletic Type" (2:40)
  4. "Flying Dreams Lullaby" (3:45) - performed by Sally Stevens
  5. "The Tractor" (2:58)
  6. "The Sentry Reel/The Story of NIMH" (6:03)
  7. "Escape from NIMH/In Disguise" (4:58)
  8. "Flying Dreams" (3:21) - performed by Paul H. Williams
  9. "Step Inside My House" (4:40)
  10. "No Thanks" (2:01)
  11. "Moving Day" (7:57)
  12. "The House Rising" (4:33)
  13. "Flying High/End Title" (2:38)


The film garnered critical acclaim for being one of the most vibrantly animated films of its time and has earned a 95% "certified fresh" approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. The film has now gained a very popular cult following since its release. Despite good reviews, the film was a moderate success at the box office, making $14,665,733 out of a roughly $7,000,000 budget, attributed to a combination of poor promotion, regionally-staggered release dates and competition from the Steven Spielberg blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

The American Film Institute nominated The Secret of NIMH for its 10 Animated Films list.


  • Despite having a G rating by the MPAA, the IMDb parents guide article of this film suggested PG For Sci-Fi/Fantasy Violence, Some Scary Images, and Brief Mild Language.
  • Prior to the 2-disc MGM Family Fun Edition released in 2007 the film was never seen in it's original theatrical aspect ratio, but rather the original negative ratio.
  • This film along with An American TailThe Land Before TimeAll Dogs Go to Heaven and Anastasia have been considered Don Bluth's bests.

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