Who doesn’t love the fearless Mrs. Brisby who learns she has a courageous heart?

Who wasn’t shocked at the secret world of the NIMH, where rats are the intellectual creme de la creme?

This week’s Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s look at great science fiction of the past, we take a look at “The Secret of NIMH”, a family-friendly story about rodents both adorable and attractive. (Come on, admit it. There’s SOMETHING about the rat, Justin, that just hits the mark in the suave category.)

I know some of you may not consider ‘The Secret of NIMH’ as classic science fiction but you’ll soon see why it is. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert C. O’Brien’s novel, ‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH’ in fifth grade which left a big impression on me as did the animated film. (Maybe because it had the word “damn” in it.) Hopefully, I’m not the only one.


The story is about the journey of Mrs. Brisby, a widow and mother of four, who is in a desperate situation. Living on the Fitzgibbons Farm, Mrs. Brisby must move her home to the other side of a big rock before the farmer’s plow comes to destroy it. However, Mrs. Brisby can’t just pick up and leave. Her son Timothy is sick with pneumonia and can’t go outdoors. Therefore, Mrs. Brisby employs the help of the rats of NIMH – a highly advanced society of freed lab rats. The rats aid Mrs. Brisby but not without disastrous hiccups and revealed secrets.

‘The Secret of NIMH’ includes the voice talents of Elizabeth Hartman, Hermoine Baddeley and John Carradine. It also includes the voices of an extremely young Wil Wheaton and Shannen Dougherty. (Oooh! More sci-fi connections!)

This film may fall into one of those semi-genre categories, something I like to call “sorta kinda science fiction”, but it fits into the sci fi genre nonetheless. The environment is rationally imaginative in that we suppose a world where animal testing has made lab rats so advanced, they’ve created their own mini-advanced world in a rosebush. We are thrust into a world where we see how scientific inquiry can be disastrous even to the littlest of creatures. Scientific advancement has come so far that humans created a way to inject a higher intelligence into an animal, giving them an ability to read and operate machinery.

The rats in ‘The Secret of NIMH’ turned their ecosystem into a kid-friendly ‘Animal Farm’ where the evolution of one evil rat, Jenner, turns into a lust for power. We question if corruption will always be inevitable as society advances.

‘The Secret of NIMH’ is pretty different from the animated films we see today. The story slowly builds. Not every scene consists of some type of action sequence. There are very adult themes appearing throughout the film such as the trials and tribulations of being a widowed mother and how class systems are built based on literacy and the availability of resources.

Plus, there’s animals who talk. Who can resist talking animals? They’re adorable!

For anyone who has a nostalgia for the 80s, (let’s face it, nostalgia for the 80s never went out of style), ‘The Secret of NIMH’ will give you that familiar taste of your youth. I highly recommend watching it again. After all, it’s on Netflix Instant and you probably watched every else Netflix Instant has to offer, anyway.

Did you like ‘The Secret of NIMH’ when you were younger? Do you consider it science fiction? Why or why not?