The Secret of NIMH

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The Secret of NIMH is a 1982 animated film.

Directed by Don Bluth. Story adaptation by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy and Will Finn (from the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Right before your eyes and beyond your wildest dreams


  • [after lighting a candle] Jonathan Brisby was killed today while helping with the plan. It is four years since our departure from NIMH, and our world is changing. We cannot stay here much longer. [While writing words in a book] Jonathan was a dear friend. I am lost in knowing how to help his widow. She knows nothing of us or the plan. [Reloading ink for fountain pen] Perhaps best that I do nothing at present. [As he quickly writes signature] I shall miss him. [Holding and looking at amulet] Jonathan, wherever you are, your thoughts must comfort her tonight. She’ll be waiting, and you will not return. [as he puts away amulet in a case, closing it] Farewell, my friend.
  • [when he gives Mrs. Brisby the amulet, and again later when she discovers its power] Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it’s there.
  • [when Nicodemus shows Mrs. Brisby a device in the corner. Two circles of metal set at right angles to form a rough globe, set in an ornate frame. The circles begin to spin, faster and faster. Energy plays across the surface of the globe described by its motion. Finally, the glowing green sphere we've already seen manifests itself. Nicodemus narrates the images] In the beginning, we were ordinary street rats, stealing our daily bread and living off the efforts of man's work. We were captured, put in cages, and sent to a place called NIMH. There were many animals cages. They were put through the most unspeakable tortures to satisfy some scientific curiosity. Often at night I would hear them, crying out in anguish. Twenty rats and eleven mice were given injections...our world began changing. Then one night I looked upon the words under the cage door...and understood them. We had become intelligent. We could read. The miracle was kept secret from the scientists, and in the quiet of the night, we escaped through the ventilation system. The mice were blown away, sucked down dark air-shafts to their deaths. All except two...Jonathan and Mr. Ages. We were trapped by a locked door on the roof. It was Jonathan who made possible the unlocking of the door.


  • [repeated line] Excuse me. Pardon me.
  • Right. When you're right, you're right. And you're right.
  • If I had actually been near a cat, I'd be sneezing my brains out. [as Dragon, the Fitzgibbons' cat, comes closer] See, I'm allergic to—kaa... I'm allergic to—kay... I'm allergic to uh... hmm... hmm... hmm... Ah-choo!
  • [mesmerized by the amulet] A sparkley!

Auntie Shrew[edit]

  • Cast not pearls before swine, I always say, and that includes impudent piglets. Good day!
  • [responding to Mrs. Brisby] I came here to inform you that the frost is off the ground, and moving day is at hand. Prepare to move your very, very odd family. Good day!


  • Friends, tonight we journey to Thorn Valley. We will leave no tracks... no evidence that the rats of NIMH ever existed. Come...
  • Damn.
  • I'll have to come back for you later.


[inside a derelict tractor]
Mrs. Brisby: Mr. Ages, I know you don't like visitors, but this is an emergency. Please--
[Suddenly an explosion shatters the tractor, sending Mr. Ages down in a basket. Mrs. Brisby comes over to him as he nears the basket.]
Mr. Ages: Ma--[coughs] — Madam, that is an emergency!

Jeremy: [after splashing in water] Excuse me. Pardon me. [coughs]
Mrs. Brisby: You keep making all that noise and Dragon will hear you, if he hasn't already.
Jeremy: Wouldn't you sing too, I mean... [flapping his wings and drying himself off] if you felt... [laughs] if you felt the call of the wild?
Mrs. Brisby: I would- [lowers her voice] I would not, if I knew there was a cat nearby. [snapping string with teeth and setting Jeremy's claw free]
Jeremy: But she's out there somewhere, and when I find her, I'll feel it, way down in my wishbone. I-- What cat?

[Twice during the film]
Auntie Shrew: Brisby!
Teresa: Oh, Auntie Shrew.
Cynthia: Oh, Auntie.
Martin: Oh, no!

Teresa: [long after Auntie Shrew has gone] What are you doing here?
Jeremy: It's a good question, but don't ask. The legs. The legs! The legs! [collapses with a thud]
Cynthia: [mournfully, coming up to Jeremy's beak] Oh, the poor turkey fell down!

[As Nicodemus and Mrs. Brisby leave]
Sullivan: I don't get it.
Jenner: [snickering] With Nicodemus out of the way, what's to stop us from taking over?
Sullivan: Jenner, you can't kill Nicodemus.
Jenner: No taste for blood, huh? [flicks Sullivan on the nose] They've taken the animal out of you.
Sullivan: What if we're discovered?
Jenner: Listen. The Brisby house is a large cement block. In the moving, what if it should fall?
Sullivan: An accident?
Jenner: Of course! Cut the lines, and the weight of it will crush his bones.
Sullivan: It's risky.
Jenner: Once rid of Nicodemus, the plan will die. We can stay here as long as we like.
Sullivan: What about Justin?
Jenner: Leave him to me... [echoing] to me... to me...

Jenner: Hear me! The Thorn Valley plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers! We...! [Laughs] We were just talking about you.
Justin: That's refreshing, Jenner. Usually you're screaming about us.

Justin: It was you! You did it! You killed Nicodemus. That was no accident!
Jenner: Yes! I killed him. He wanted to destroy everything! I've learned this much: take what you can...when you can!
Justin: Then you've learned nothing!

Timmy: [from inside his room] Mommy, I'm tired of bed. I want to get up.
Mrs. Brisby: [responding from outside] Well, you're not getting up.

About The Secret of NIMH[edit]

  • One of our films that we wanted a PG rating was (for) The Secret of NIMH. Funny, even with all the support of the press and the critics, they all commented that there are dark sections of the film that could be frightening to small children. Not really sure you will get the attention of the ratings board or its members, I think they just feel that animation is for children so it's just an automatic gesture, rate it G! I often wonder if the ratings board actually looks at the animated films.
    • Don Bluth [1]
  • I don't know about the whole gaming system, I just know that our contribution was those three games. We were on the third game &#Array; Dragon's Lair II &#Array; and hadn't completed it when the gaming business went "Blah." It went right down and the movie business went up. It was a weird kind of time, and once again we thought, "Well, we failed again. We're going to go out of business." But then something always rescues us. Jerry Goldsmith took The Secret of NIMH and showed it to Steven Spielberg. He took a look and said, "Wow, I thought this kind of animation was dead. I've been told forever that you can't do this anymore; it's too expensive." It wasn't the truth. You could do it, and we'd learned that you could¿ It was just the studio mentality that they simply didn't want to spend the money. Steven got very excited and he said, "Would you like to make a picture together?" We, of course, jumped at the opportunity.
  • It was the film that was made in our innocence. That's where we dug down deep. And we didn't know any better, so we rushed in. We did the best you could. On Secret of NIMH, we had two layout people, three background people, and ten animators. That's how we made the movie. All the painting on the cels was farmed out to women all over the city of Los Angeles. They took it into their kitchens and painted it. When I think about how fat the studios have become, I laugh. You have 24 people in the layout department &#Array; we're fat with personnel. All the rules and attitudes change in that kind of environment.
  • MGM was not involved until it merged with UA. UA had originally committed to distributing The Secret of NIMH under the leadership of Norbert Aurebach, who was extremely enthusiastic about NIMH. Unfortunately, a few months later UA’s film, Heaven’s Gate went way over budget, and UA was sold to MGM by its owner, TransAmerica. The then chairman of MGM, David Begelman was not interested in animation. He felt that only Disney could distribute and sell animation, and refused to put up any of the contracted financing for the distribution of the film, further, they did what is called a roll-out campaign, opening on the west coast and rolling across the US. Aurora had put up $4.2M for the prints and advertising. When they did an audit of MGM/UA a year later, there was still over $600,000 in NIMH Print & Advertising account.
  • In fact, we believe that our film, The Secret of N.I.M.H. provided everyone on the film a credit, including the receptionists, and assistants that drove our trucks to run errands. Disney’s next film included many more of the animation staff than in their previous films.
    • Gary Goldman [2]


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