Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review - The Secret of NIMH (1982 - Dir. Don Bluth)

Here's the first film in our Christmas Season. I know, it's got nothing to do with Christmas, but I tend to watch it at this time of year and it always makes me feel festive. Maybe it's down to the twinkly lights that seem to be all pervading. Even if something in its natural state isn't twinkly, it is in The Secret of NIMH. It's hard to show in a still photo, but trust me, everything's well twinkly.

Mrs Brisby is a mouse. And she's got four mousey children (early appearances - well, vocal anyway - for Wil Weaton and Shannen Doherty), but one of them's ill, and can't be moved. Oh, and the field where her home resides is going to be ploughed soon. And Mrs Brisby has to go to visit a massive mouse-devouring owl to get help. Good luck with that then, love.

The story is fairly standard issue with some rather large plot holes. Given the reasoning behind why the rats in the story can talk and behave intelligently, how come Mrs Brisby and all the other animals can talk too? But I don't watch this for the story. I watch it for the lush, hand-painted backdrops and gorgeous animation and the overall atmosphere. This was directed by Don Bluth, who worked at Disney, and you can see his influence in the character designs. Just look at those gnarled hands on Nicodemus (recalling his work on the laserdisc game Dragon's Lair). It's a shame that more companies aren't still making 2D animations. I'll have to stick to anime to get my 2D fix.

The main bonus of Don Bluth leaving Disney, apart from how great the film looks, is the lack of songs. The story never breaks its stride to make way for an Elton John penned waste of time in which the story barely moves along at all. I hate musicals and I hate characters spontaneously singing. It has the power to spoil even the best of films. I really, really hate it. Rant over.

Aside from a villain who never really gets the screen time to get really villainous, and a strong whiff of deus ex machina in the ending, The Secret of NIMH is enjoyable enough and I've watched it many times. Mainly at Christmas. Give it a try if you want a bit of twinkliness.

If you like this you could also try:
The Dark Crystal, Watership Down, Titan A.E.

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