The Secret of NIMH

An animated feature (1982) by Don Bluth, who led a group of fed-up animators away from Disney in 1980. Based on an award-winning children's book about a field mouse, Mrs. Brisby, who enlists the aid of a colony of superintelligent rats to move her family home away from the path of a farmer's plow, the film is an impressive technical achievement: the full-figure animation is dimensional and elegant, the perspectives imaginative, and the color design superb. But without the (old) Disney genius for emotional structure and character design, the results are rather flat—the film concentrates on Disney horror and trauma without the relief of Disney charm. With its strong maternal theme, it suggests a less cute version of Poltergeist. Not enthralling, but worth seeing for anyone interested in the mechanics of this arcane art. G, 84 min.

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