I recently watched "NIMH" again, for the countless time,
but had the pleasure of viewing it with a good friend who
had never seen the movie before. Needless to say, he was
enchanted by the movie and astounded by the animation. Out
of curiousity, we then popped in tapes of both THE RESCUERS
and THE LITTLE MERMAID -- Disney films made before and after
NIMH, respectively -- to compare the qualities in animation,
and frankly there was no comparison. NIMH still holds up,
while even MERMAID's acclaimed animation seemed a bit "rubbery"
in character movements, and less striking in its dramatic
Thank you for the compliments.
I was curious about how you went about adapting Robert C.
O'Brien's book into the final script, as the movie is quite
different from the original source.
His (O'Brien's) book was actually two stories: the
Rats' journey and Mrs. Brisby's journey. While debating
our way through several story meetings, we concluded that
we should concentrate on the widow's story and her efforts
to save her sick son, Timmy, from the farmer's plow. And
actually, we really liked the Rats's story just as much.
We just felt that the drama of the mom trying to protect
her invalid son was more powerful. We did our best to include
the power struggle going on, within the Rats' society. Nicodemus
is a spiritual leader of the rats and the Great Owl is his
counter-part in the forest, both wise and powerful characters.
We show their relationship with their glowing eyes, suggesting
that they may be the same entity, almost God-like characters.
I wondered about the element of magic that you introduced
in the storyline; it's obvious Nicodemus possessed some
magical, "wizardry" qualities (his being able to levitate
his cane and diary, the illuminated writing, and the hologram),
but the addition of the amulet, and how it's used it the
end by Mrs. Brisby, were significant departures from the
rather ambiguous, downbeat finale of the book. I was curious
to learn how the concept of the amulet was introduced...
It's a mysterious thing that is never really explained,
and hoped you could shed some light on it. My friend and
I really talked a lot about the subject!!! We know the amulet
once belonged to Jonathan, and that he had entrusted it
to Nicodemus' safekeeping until it could be passed on to
his widow...but where did it come from? How did Jonathan
acquire it? How did it get its magical abilities? (I like
to think that Jonathan's spirit and the amulet were somehow
connected, and it's power was Jonathan's gift to his wife
from beyond the grave... Just food for thought.)
Wow! Glad that the film inspired your curiousity.
regard to the amulet, it is a metaphor for believing in one's
self. Remember the quote, "Courage of the heart is very rare,
the stone has a power when it's there." It helps symbolize
her courage and the power of the stone to help rescue her
children...a miracle, if you will. God stuff. Granted, it
isn't in the original novel, but we felt that it was much
more powerful. Nicodemus says it was Jonathan's, but really
just to get her to accept it. We didn't really think it was
necessary to explain it further. Seems like we would eat up
too much screen time to tell the history of the amulet, when
the story was about an innocent widow mouse, who, thru her
journey would find out that she has the courage to rescue
her own family.
magic, we really believe that animation calls for some magic,
to give it a special "fantastic" quality. The stone or amulet
is just a method of letting the audience know that Mrs. Brisby
has found 'Courage of the Heart'. Magic? Maybe. Spiritual?
Another question I've long wondered was how much time had
passed between Jonathan's death and the events of the film?
We know it was relatively recently, but as the children seem
to have already adjusted, can we presume it has been a few
He (Jonathan) died fairly recently, sometime after Timmy's
birth, so, maybe months in "mouse time". Maybe a year in human
time. Timmy is about 4 years old in human time. It was during
an attempt to drug Dragon, the cat. Remember, the Rats have
a plan to move away from the farmer's property and survive
without stealing from the farmer, it's the ethical thing to
do. We hope these answers make sense.