Nostalgia Critic - What Does The Secret of NIMH Mean?

(185 votes, average 4.88 out of 5)
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Comments (185)
  • Calavera  - FIrst
    Sorry I had to try it out!
  • Elphaba645
    PLEASE explain how Care Bears are related to our economic downward spiral!!!!!!
  • cvrpapc
    Well if you check the Care-index. It was down -400 today. We all know that caring is not a commodity that has a lot of value these days. Not many people investing in it. I guess its because everyone wants a short term return on their investments. I think its also due to the fact people's credit ratings are terrible.
  • Ginger...  - @Calavera
    you keep on truckin' with the First-ness & don't let anyone tell you otherwise XD (seriously though I don't know why so many people get up in arms about first comments, it's practically a once in a blue moon chance on this site unless one camps out on the site all night and day)
  • Amykins
    This always bugged me, even as a kid - if the rats of NIMH were ordinary rats as we know them, then why on earth can Mrs. Brisby, described as an ordinary field mouse, talk, read and wear clothing?!
  • Mauropteryx
    It's probably split people because the magic wasn't in the book. So it actually was a Deus Ex Machina.

    The science and nature dynamic is one of the reasons this is a damn good movie. It doesn't frame the issue as one versus the other and instead involves the rats learning to live with their newfound intelligence and finding their place in the world.

    I need to find a DVD Secret of NIMH. Every generation should know this movie.
  • Zorro4k6
    I actually didn't know this was a book, haha. I wasn't much of a reader when I was a kid. I was more of a watcher. Images on screen were better than words to me. Anyway, I'll have to check the book out some time.

    Doug, I have to agree with some of those points. I also think it's the combination of all of those elements that makes this film so interesting. I'm always fascinated by the unknown and so I think that stone was cool. I still want to know more about it. But I'm also fine with not knowing. I also like the design of it, haha.

    Anyway, nice editorial Doug. :)
  • SpeedyEric
    Damn, I STILL haven't seen this movie yet, and I tried to do so after seeing the Secret of NIMH 2 review.
  • Dustomega
    It is on Netflixs.
  • cvrpapc
    You don't know what Netflix is?

    Where have you been? Under a fucken stone the last 10 years?
  • LinkarasNum1Fan
    Oh, I know what Netflix is. I use it all the time. I'm just curious as to what Netflixs is.

    It's "fucking* stone," you dumb whore.
  • Undertaker91
    Thats the second time ive seen it spelled that way today. Strange
  • Sparoku
    Do so ASAP! You won't regret it! :D
  • Truchsess
    I would have loved to watch the movie the critic describes here...
    Unfortunatelly, these things are not in the movie at all!
    Ok, ok, that might be a bit harsh, but I was always curious about "The Secret of NIMH", since it got so hyped by the critic... when I finally saw it I was completly disappointed.
    Ok, it's a pretty looking movie. Great design. But that's it! The characters are flat, the story and it's own universe incoherent and that stone... well sorry, but it is probably one of the worste cases of "Deus Ex Machina" I've seen in a long time!
    It's a great video from the critic, because it explains to me what he sees in this movie that I simply don't get... but I think he sees way more than is actually there.
  • Airanuva
    I have to agree, what he describes is a different movie... And I merely need to point to Jeremy the crow for that.
    His scenes are way too damn long. Nothing happens, the plot doe snot move forward, and I would compare him to Jar Jar Binks.
    Also the plot itself is nonsensical. She goes to find the rats of NiHM because her son is sick. But, he is supposed to be getting better. She is seeking them out so they may help her MOVE HER HOME. The excuse for this is "the air is too cold for him to be outside, and he need rest." Hospitals evacuate patients if there is a threat to them, regardless of their health. The solution here is to bundle him up, and, as they say multiple times in the movie, "Move your family."
    And the plot really pains me because the solution to this problem is so simple... Just make it so she requires them to heal Timmy. Remove the need to move.
    Or, if they really, really like the moving idea... Build a Vardo (A caravan wagon). Bam, Timmy stays inside on a bed, while you move. If one argues about "rattling him up" by moving him in this fashion, I'm pretty sure near drowning and lifting their house by a rope isn't that much better than a few bumps in the road.
    Such a simple solution, that I wonder if that is actually the plot of the book, and they changed it for the movie for some unknown reason...
  • Falconfly
    She's moving the family because they'll be buldozzed if they don't move. Why the owl suggested the rats seems a bit contrived, but it was more than just Timmy being sick.
  • Airanuva
    I know about the bulldozing, but the only reason she doesn't just uproot and move her family on the spot, is because Timmy is sick. That is not a good enough excuse. Now, if Timmy was fused with the house I'd understand the need to delay the move and get help, but since he is not one with the house, being sick is not excuse enough to endanger the lives of her entire family.
    There seems to be almost no excuse for the plot of moving their home.
  • Reaper
    Don't know how much this will help you, but the book "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" was quite a bit different from the movie. There was no magic and not as much technology as is shown in the movie. I feel that in the movie, they do not make the difference between the rats and the rest of the creatures large enough. In the book, it was very clear that Ms Frisby was an ordinary mouse of ordinary intelligence. Many times, the shrew told her that Timmy would just need to be bundled up and moved, and Frisby kept hanging on because their summer home was so much cooler than the winter home. He would surely die, and an ordinary field mouse isn't going to be able to create and work a mobile home...and the rats would not have helped her because it would have attracted too much attention.

    Other differences are that Jenner takes a group of rats and leaves the farm due to the arguments, and actually dies fairly early on, and Nicodemus does not die. The rats are alerted by Mrs. Frisby about NIMH coming to exterminate them, and make plans to make the rosebush look like an other regular rat hole. A few rats do die by NIMH's hand. The book is definitely worth checking out. I think the story is essentially better than the movie.
  • Whisky Tango Foxtrot
    "The Secret of NIMH" is a good story, told by someone who completely fails to get what the story is about. If you want the story told *well*, read "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH," the novel that the movie was based on.
  • RJ Dalton
    It's pronounced Day-use Ex Machina. And yes, the ending is a Deus Ex Machina, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on how well it's set up and how you present it. It's one of those tropes that's really hard to pull off, but you can do any trope right. The question of whether or not this film does it well is an interesting argument.
  • nicodimus22
    I saw the rats as a reflection of humanity. As they advance and gain power/intelligence, they are capable of both unbelievable cruelty and generosity, just like humans. As for what the amulet is...well, having the sick baby sink into the mud would be too depressing for little kids, so they had to have a device to give a happy ending. I don't think there's much more to it than that.
  • Sparda  - Death of the Author
    What you talk about around the 7th minute, if the creator's POV or intent when writing a story/creating art is important to you as a viewer/reader, and the answer is no.

    The Author's opinion or intent on the message you get out of the story is irrelevant. It's an actual literary concept. So what they had in mind creating this project means nothing to your understanding, or mine.

    Random fact of the day because I learned it three weeks ago.
  • mathjazz  - Death of the Author
    The death of the author is one school of thought in literary criticism, but not the only one. In fact the diametrically opposed school is called "Authorial Intentionality" which tries to understand literature by looking at the author's background and intended meaning.
  • octobersanctuary
    Another interesting editorial. I really need to see this film sometime.

    My only complaint is that while his 'Triumph of the Will' comment got his point across, it is inaccurate (At the time a big chunk of others in England and America also saw this in a similar light to the Germans - The reason why they got involved was the invasion of countries like Poland and the bombing of Pearl Harbour respectively, it wasn't till near the end of the war that things like the Holocaust came to light)

    Otherwise it's a very interesting and very engaging editorial as always.

    Looking forward to the next one.
  • minnie3434
    I've seen this movie on Netflix so many times, but I've never taken time to see it.
  • Wormtail96
    Really, whilst Jenner is by no means the deepest or complex villain, I think a lot of us surprisingly can relate to him and see a lot ourselves as individuals and humanity in general in him. A lot us are afraid of change and don't like to take ethical responsibility. Why change anything when everything we already have is fine and comforting? The perks of modern day living especially fuels this - Ipods, surgery, robotics, damn good coffee makers! I can honestly say there are times when I feel as such, but in the end, I actually find myself speculating on change almost excited for it. If they perhaps gave Jenner a bit more depth and more dimensions to his character, maybe he could be placed up there as one of the great animated villains.
  • QueenTangerine  - YES!
    A Secret Of NIMH episode!I've been so into this movie, and this has really brightened my day.
  • James Picard
    I'm guessing the secret was their experiments on the mice, but I'm not sure. Haven't seen the movie or read the book. Seriously need to, though.
  • Atarieviewer
    "Clips from 'The Secret of NIMH', 'The Secret of NIMH 2' and 'Triumph of the Will'" is probably the best out-of-context credits page ever created.
  • herecomesanewchallenger  - Consider this
    You make some very compelling arguments for your opinions on this and I agree that there is merit in what you said but consider this.

    I always thought the stone as a representation of a cornerstone. The rats of NIMH are starting their own society, free of any help or aid from an outside source. And every society needs a cornerstone at their foundation.

    Since Mrs. Brisby is the only one who can use the stones power, she herself is the cornerstone for the rats. Or rather the act of helping her. Rats are animals. They have to use instincts to live and one of, if not, the biggest is survival. Helping someone other than themselves is not something rats would do. Unless of course they were defending their offspring, but that again is an instict. They certainly wouldn't help a mouse protect her offspring.

    That's why Mrs. Brisby is their cornerstone. To show that they are no longer controlled solely by instinct. But also intelligence and maybe even honor. The rats would never have escaped NIMH without Jonathans help. They are indebted to him and, since Jon died while helping them prepare for their new society, they honor their debt by helping his wife and children escape the threats of humanity and science (yes i'm calling a tractor science). The very thing they were trying to escape. That's very nobil. Intelligence can only take you so far but to acknowledge things like that takes something more. Quite possibly that unknown aspect you spoke of.

    And yet there's still more than that. The conerstone can be considered an idea. Both the founding fathers and the hebrews layed important cornerstones or foundation stones when beginning there state and church. After all their hardships they layed those stones for the hope of a better future. Even her house looks like a cornerstone. True it's a cinder block but they look relatively the same.

    When Mrs. Brisby tries to use the power of the stone, she gets burn. Well, starting something new can be very painful. But if you fight past it, as Mr.s Brisby did, it can lead you to something incredible and many will stand in awe, as the rats did, at what you acomplish.

    And that's what i got from The Secret of NIMH. Honor, compasion, nobility and that sense of hope when faced with adversity. To strive forward and continue to grow not only as a society but as individuals as well. I might be reading into this too much........maybe cause i read the book. By the way, i'm surprised you haven't read it. You'd like it. Just something i hope you consider.
  • ladydiskette
    ....until Secret of NIMH 2 came and screwed that up.
  • fanime1
    That was...that was beautiful. Fuck, as much I loved the movie growing up, I never really thought about what it meant before. Sure, I wondered every one in a while, but I never gave it a lot of time and if I did, I really don't remember. I feel like I'm a horrible fan for not analyzing it as well T-T.
  • Ginger...  - @herecomesanewchallenger
    This explanation is...beautifully brilliant T W T
  • Falconfly
    Actually, studies on rats show that they are quite compassionate animals, helping other rats for no logical reason.
  • Sewblon
    A tractor is more technology than science. Technology and science are interdependent, but they are not interchangeable, just as politics and law are interdependent but not interchangeable.
  • Maarons
    The magic element was put into the film because Don Bluth and Gary Goldman didn't like how Mrs. Frisby kept running around depending on the kindness of strangers while Mrs. Brisby, through indefatiguable drive and courage, unlocks the magic and "solves her own problems herself". That's what they said in the commentary track anyway.
  • albinotanuki
    You know what? I agree with Bluth and Goldman. Brisby wouldn't nearly have been shown as the courageous character she was in the film if she didn't unlock that magic with her good heart.
  • pinky75910
    She volunteered to drug a cat that killed her husband, she visited an owl who eats mice for advice, and she wasn't courageous?
  • Maarons
    But they wanted her to be the one to actually save the house not the rats.
  • ohe
    "The magic element was put into the film because Don Bluth and Gary Goldman didn't like how Mrs. Frisby kept running around depending on the kindness of strangers"

    Sooo. A total cop-out with a deus ex machina, then. Instead of relying on strangers, let's make her rely on that effort magically translates into success.

    In fact, that's a class example of deus ex machina. It used to be that a god would appear to grant happiness to certain characters, in order to depict the god in question through what kind of actions they deem worthy. Here it just informs the audience about the judgement of the writers rather than of some Roman god.
  • Maarons
    It's not Deus Ex if they establish it ahead of time. And calling it a cop out is wrong because she's rewarded with her bravery and drive by getting the power to save her home and children from a problem that wasn't even in the book: her house sinking and children in mortal peril.
  • lilbird
    I can see the themes you've pointed out being the main themes. It was pretty much in the original book as well, whether just as detailed or not, I can't remember anymore. But I remember it being explored a bit.

    For what I personally got out of it when I recently watched the movie about a month or two back, I saw a mother going through desperate measures for her family's own needs during a desperate point of her life. After all, one of her children is gravely ill, her home has been threatened, she recently became a widow (but didn't know what happened to him) and still grieves over her husband, even wishing he was still there with her. Basically overnight, she now had to learn to raise her family on her own. She just got caught up in something she was indirectly involved with only because her husband was in on it.

    Also, in the song "Flying Dreams" the lyrics say "love is the key", and Mrs. Brisby is full of love and care for her family. And because she loves them so much, she was willing to risk everything so she wouldn't lose them. Her expression when her home sank with her children inside was that of genuine fright, because she was losing everything she held dear to her, and she continued to struggle to reach them even after it disappeared into the mud.

    I have a feeling Don Bluth respected mothers a lot, so I think that was one of the messages in the movie. It probably doesn't mean a whole lot to a lot of people, but as someone who does desire to have a family of her own and want to be a good mother after watching my own mother over the years, that stuck out to me the most. It was also the most emotional part of the film for me when it came to the climax, as it played out to its fullest by then.

    So yeah. I also see some religious undertones in there if I squint (which wouldn't surprise me as Don Bluth is religious), but it's mostly coincidental or I'm just looking too much into it.
  • dragon_badger
    I already liked the Secret of NIMH, but I admit I had always been on the “But was it really necessary to have magic in this story?” side of the argument. That Deus Ex Machina never allowed me to fully enjoy the movie. But I REALLY like Doug’s interpretation of it all. The elements I always thought weakened the movie, from his point of view they make it stronger. Hearing his analysis actually makes me like the movie even better!

    I’m not sure the example he used about the Nazi propaganda movie was the best choice for his point though (since in that example it’s more a difference between sociopolitical and historical contexts than a difference between individual personal interpretations). It kind of reminded me more of what Tolkien said about allegory vs applicability. Even if the author didn’t intend the story as an allegory, if it has applicability then the reader can add their own meaning to the story, rendering it timeless.

    Another great Editorial.

    …But still Critic, you owe me an editorial about Care Bears! I want it now xD
  • mute
    I agree. Maybe Zero Dark Thirty would have been a better choice than Triumph of the will.
    At least I shortly thought about bringing Democracy to the U.S. after watching.
    Then again the austrian army is shit.
  • Dustomega
    I never thought this much into this movie. I have seen it many many times in my life, and i just enjoy the characters, and the setting. I thought the idea of rats and mice with human intelligence living like they do was just a great idea. I wish i could be one of the rats to live in that kind of world.
  • smjaiteh
    The real question is what would the farmer do when he sees his electricity bill is through the roof.
  • SRanger1071  - Interesting
    That's one of the trademarks of a good film/story; it doesn't just get people talking, it gets people to have serious conversations and debates about the themes, characters, and medium (cinematography or animation).

    BTW, will you be doing any Raiders of the Story Arc anytime soon? I'd love to hear what you have to say about Darkwing Duck, or Batman Beyond.
  • DeDreamer
    I have to admit, I despise this movie. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was one of my favorite books as a child and had a real ending that made actual sense. Magic ruined this story, it's completely out of place. It was only added because Don Bluth's a christian and apparently can't stand the idea of science and intellect being glorified to children. Heaven forbid kids get the idea that morality is self-imposed and the result of logical and philosophical debate, or that problems be solved through careful thought and action. No, only faith solves anything. Bleh. This film is a disgrace to the original story.
  • Singe8
    But... it's so well animated! I honestly can't defend Bluth's changes, but despite the changes he made, it's still a fun movie to watch, and he could have done a lot worse with the inclusion of magic.
  • Falconfly
    He didn't add the magic out of religious reasons, rather out of a cop out (see above), but if he did it'd be gloriously hilarious, as magic is hated neurotically in Mormonism.
  • Crystal6  - The book, the director, and religion
    I'd like to preface this comment by saying I loved the book and thus couldn't stand the movie which I found to be a butchering of said book. (Why the hell did we throw magic in there? Why is the dude who fears change the evil maniac with an evil cape billowing in the wind?)

    That said I'm a Christian. Not all Christians "can't stand the idea of science" as you imply here. Can't we make fun of Don Bluth without also insulting everyone who shares his religion?
  • LilacElf82
    This film is my 2nd favorite of all time--the first being Watership Down which also has some incredibly done themes.

    I love any look at this film and Doug has a very interesting view point on it.

    And since he's said an actual Nostalgia Critic review of Watership Down is not in the books, I'd still like to see an editorial look at it to examine the themes of the movie.
  • LilacElf82
    BTW--This review: a-look-at-the-secret-of- nimh-1982-6474560

    is another great look at Secret of NIMH
  • ohe
    That review seriously reminded me of Wanted.

    All of them similarities.
  • Theozilla01
    Interesting discussion, while I personally prefer the original novel story that had no magic and focused more on the rats compared to the film (which also discussed the themes of species and society, but with Mrs. Frisby/Brisby being more of a outside observer of the turmoil) the Deus Ex Machina elements of the stone are still able to work well in the film (as Doug explained).
  • Captain Siberia
    This film has a very important problem: the second act is way too short. There was a lot more development of the situation that should have gone into it. As it is, we barely meet the Rats of Nimh before they're moving the cinder block. Also, Mrs. Brisby should have had some time to become acquainted with the amulet and slowly discover its secrets, so that at the end of the movie, I'm not asking, "How the hell did she know she could do that?"

    The quality of your voice keeps changing. There's more bass, there's less...
  • Fangheart
    I never saw this movie, but I did read the the book she's called Mrs. fact, the name of the book is "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH".......Doug how come you never read books?
  • pinky75910
    They were forced to change Mrs. Frisby's name for copyright issues with the toy of the same name. It bugged me too until I heard that.
  • tomrule123
    Classic animated film. Had seen it ever since I was a kid (and now, I own the Blu-ray. ... yeah, I grew up with Bluth's work.) Funny that this animated film would have deep themes, morals, and yes, a bit of rough violence. ... God, you gotta love the 80's.
  • criticschool101
    You should've said my little pony instead of care bears Doug. It makes more sense now a days. Lol f&*k that show.
  • ArcaneArts
    Given Don Bluth's beliefs and ethics, you might be closer to original intent than you think Doug.
  • KayMartha  - Spiritual element
    Great analysis, Doug. I actually think your thoughts are not far from the director's intent. I had the privilege of meeting Don Bluth at an animation convention, and he mentioned that when crafting the Jenner/Justin conflict, he wanted audiences to think about how with knowledge comes responsibility.

    The Secret of NIMH is my favorite traditionally animated film, but I understand that the magic stone splits people's opinion on it. I always interpreted the deus ex machina as a way of showing how when a hero does all that he or she can and can no longer do more, God (or other higher forces) step in and take over in the nick of time. In other words, its an earned deus ex machina. And the spiritual intent is likely given the spiritual element in other Bluth films.

    The Small One - the boy does everything he can to sell the donkey. He fails, he feels sad, but Joseph discovers him and needs the donkey to carry Jesus. As the song goes, "God meant it that way."

    Banjo the Woodpile Cat/An American Tail - characters pray, happy ending comes. (Although what weakens the theme of having faith in An American Tail is that Fievel's dad shows up just when Fievel loses faith)

    Land Before Time - Littlefoot is rewarded for having faith in his mother's memory and trudging along through.

    All Dogs Go to Heaven - Oh, man, that ending.
    Angel: "You gave your life for can come home now."
    Me: Bawls my eyes out.

    Love the older traditionally animated films! Once again, Doug, thanks for bringing one of the gems into the limelight.
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