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The Secret of NIMH (1982)


Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 22
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: The Secret of NIMH is a dark, well-told tale that respects its young audience enough to not tone down its subject matter.

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: The Secret of NIMH is a dark, well-told tale that respects its young audience enough to not tone down its subject matter.


Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 55,406



Movie Info

Frustrated with the Walt Disney studio's reluctance to produce full-length animated films, Don Bluth and a number of animators left the studio in the early '80s with the intent of creating movies in the style of Disney's classics. The Secret of NIMH is the first film Bluth produced after leaving the studio. Adapted from Robert C. O'Brien's acclaimed children's book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H., the film is about a widowed mouse whose home is threatened; also, one of her children is … More

Drama , Animation , Kids & Family , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
Don Bluth , Will Finn , Gary Goldman
In Theaters:
Mar 6, 2001
United Artists



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Critic Reviews for The Secret of NIMH

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (1) | DVD (13)

Bluth and his animators, bless them, chose to revive an endangered art form -- classically detailed animation. They drew their characters exquisitely and gave them individual personalities.

Full Review… | November 20, 2013
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Not enthralling, but worth seeing for anyone interested in the mechanics of this arcane art.

Full Review… | September 3, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Every character moves fluidly and imaginatively against an extravaganza of detailed background and dazzling effects, all emboldened by fascinating colored textures.

Full Review… | August 31, 2008
Top Critic

It is something gorgeous to look at.

Full Review… | August 31, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The animation was, as Bluth and company had promised, a spectacular return to old-school craftsmanship.

Full Review… | July 7, 2007
AV Club
Top Critic

It's a spectacular return to the shimmering, mesmerising deep-focus animation associated with Disney's classic period...

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The animation is lovingly rendered and there's a pedigree cast (Dom DeLuise, Derek Jacobi, John Carradine) providing voices.

Full Review… | November 20, 2013
Radio Times

Fascinating. But sensitive animal-lovers beware.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011
Common Sense Media

The award-winning book had a pretty crackerjack story to begin with, but in some respects, I think Bluth and his co-writers have bettered it.

Full Review… | November 22, 2009
Antagony & Ecstasy

A return to the lush, finely detailed animation seen in the best Disney features.

Full Review… | August 31, 2008
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Never mind the G rating, this is scary stuff which sent my little one fleeing to another room inside of 10 minutes.

Full Review… | January 19, 2006

It's no secret -- this is one mighty mouse movie!

Full Review… | January 6, 2005

Lovers of animation shouldn't have too much trouble getting the kids to take them along.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Too leaden for kids, too slight for grownups.

Full Review… | November 7, 2002

It took years before Disney would match the quality of this first film from expatriate Don Bluth.

July 26, 2002
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

It remains the best entry in Bluth's hugely inconsistent filmography.

March 28, 2002
New Times

Audience Reviews for The Secret of NIMH

The Secret of NIMH features gorgeous, detailed animation and a delightfully dark nature. It is well constructed, occasionally thrilling, visually dazzling---and also mysterious and haunting (rare for an animated film). What really makes the film a triumph is its ability to perfectly convey O'Brien's masterful work--especially via the expressive characters--and fully capture our attention and wonder as we willingly follow Ms. Brisby along her exciting adventure. Where it falls short is in its slow beginning, abrupt ending, and some moments that drag. However, these flaws--while keeping it from being a perfect masterpiece--are then undone by the beauty that makes up most of the film.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer


though many consider this Don Bluths best film, I still don't think he is the best animation director. The animation is okay, but its not that impressive, not as much "Anastasia." The acting is okay but not fantastic, but the music is very good, and some of it is very good when it comes to its drama, but it doesn't leave you completely satisfied like some other serious animated films do like "Persepolis" but overall it is a decent film, but its not the best film or the best animated film I've seen.

michael e.
Michael Edwards

Super Reviewer

Don Bluths directorial debut and his best film. The animation is amazing, especially when considering it was done by twelve animators. The story is just as amazing as the audience follows Mrs. Brisbys journey to save her son. Their are many scary and intense scenes in this movie, but Mrs. Brisbys courage and optimism keeps the tone of the film in balance. Probably the only time Don Bluth succeeded in maintaining that balance. An emotionally powerful film that kids and adults can enjoy.

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer


An interesting animated film, the story is actually pretty grown up for a Disney movie, and I'm not sure that was a good idea, but overall it's a pretty good movie.

AJ Verser

Super Reviewer

The Secret of NIMH Quotes

Jennar: We were just talking about you... Justin: That's refreshing, Jenner. Usually you're screaming about us...
– Submitted by Joshua L (2 years ago)
Mrs. Brisby: If you're going to feather a nest, you've got a lot to learn about how to treat a lady. Jeremy: Right. When you're right, you're right, and you're right. None of the girls I meet wanna get serious. Mrs. Brisby: I doubt they'd survive.
– Submitted by Christopher H (3 years ago)
Nicodemus: Johnathan could not tell you about us because the injections slowed the aging process. You see, you would have grown old, while he remained young.
– Submitted by Christopher H (3 years ago)
Nicodemus: We can no longer live as rats. We know too much.
– Submitted by Christopher H (3 years ago)
Nicodemus: Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it's there.
– Submitted by Christopher H (3 years ago)
Jennar: I learned this much: take what you can, when you can. Justin: Then you have learned nothing.
– Submitted by Christopher H (3 years ago)

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