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Mrs. Brisby: Courage of the Heart

What does Don Bluth have in common with Stephenie Meyer?

They’re both Mormons and their values tend to influence their work, especially when it comes to extolling the virtues of motherhood. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Why did I bring this up?

Well, first things first, I’m gonna talk little about The Secret of NIMH.

Released in 1982, it was Don Bluth’s directorial debut. Previously an animator for Disney, he and several other animators left the company to pursuit their own projects with less creative and artistic restrictions. The Secret of NIMH was a modest success, but it bankrupted Bluth and his studio. However, this movie is cited as one of the films responsible for kick-starting the Renaissance Age of Animation. The film itself is atmospheric, frightening at times (and with a G-rating!), and has some of the most vibrant visuals seen in animation. It also has a very unlikely heroine.

Mrs. Brisby is incredibly timid, which is unsurprising as she is a mouse and is realistically towards the bottom of the food chain. She is also a single mom, having recently lost her husband Jonathan and things look very bad for her youngest son Timmy who has contracted pneumonia. To make matters worse, the field they live in is scheduled to be plowed.

Throughout the film, however, she:

evades the monstrous cat Dragon numerous times,

visits the lair of The Great Owl,

ventures in the den of the Rats of NIMH to seek their aid,

volunteers to drug Dragon and succeeds, escapes capture from the farmer’s son,

and wields the magic stone that burns her hands in the process of saving her children.

Mind you, she is an ordinary field mouse in a film where the other major rat and mouse characters are genetically enhanced and of heightened intelligence.

They know how to use electricity and have electrified spears as weapons.

Meyer makes the claim that motherhood is very important to her and Bella Swan. However, those who read Breaking Yawn- er, Breaking Wind- would tell you that Bella had it incredibly, despicably easy as a mom. The Loch Ness Monster pretty much took care of herself, would be “full-grown” by the time she was seven-years old and was doted upon by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and future husband while Mom and Dad were having rough vampire sex. It could be part wish-fulfillment on Meyer’s part (raising three sons with small age differences can’t be easy) and part not trying to get in trouble with her Mormon peers if she did something like moan about how hard it is to raise kids.

Mrs. Brisby never yells at her kids, but she does sound a bit frustrated when they misbehave, especially her oldest son Martin, while in the care of Auntie Shrew, a very stern, busy-body of a matron. That is pretty normal for most moms. I like the scene where she feeds Timmy and the other children gather around the bed.

It’s just a very tender scene and you know how much she loves her family and why she goes through all these obstacles that scare the living crap out of her.

For possessing Courage of the Heart, that is why I think Mrs. Brisby is an awesome Female Character.

P.S. Even cranky busy-body Auntie Shrew gets her own moment of awesome by disabling the tractor- while it's plowing- in order to buy Mrs. Brisby more time. One more female character that is more awesome than Bella Swan and she’s barely the size of a baseball.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
Haha! Yes. Mrs. Brisby is probably the most awesome little Mama Bear ever. DO NOT MESS WITH HER BABIES. It doesn't matter if you're humans or pneumonia, hurt them and she will defeat you.
Apr. 18th, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
Rats of NIMH! So great. We must have been on the same brainwave because I just did a write-up about Redwall.

Also, this movie along with Ferngully were probably the source of many, many nature-inspired nightmares as a child. Kids these days just don't know how easy they have it!
Apr. 18th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
Hm, spooky.

I don't know about that. "Coraline" and the many Disney classics that their parents introduce them to supply more than enough nightmare fuel.
Apr. 18th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
I only recently saw this movie on Netflix--and you're right, it's awesome. The book that it's based on--Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH--was one of my favorites when I was little.
Apr. 21st, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
I remember watching this movie when I was still very young and I've yet to read the original book, though from what I heard the movie deviates from its source quite a bit. Not that it suffers for it.
Feb. 9th, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC)
The Secret of NIMH is easily my favourite film! There was always something about it that stuck with me- not just the ending, but the journey, and so many kids films these days are lacking a proper, beautiful journey where the main character has to work to get to the end.
I always loved Mrs. Brisby; she's just this wonderful mother who does so much to save her children, even if it puts her own life in danger. She retains her personality all the way through, and doesn't give up, and I find that so admirable in a character.

(I found out that Martin was voiced by Wil Wheaton... That's just adorable on so many levels... especially considering Martin was voiced by Eric Idle in the sequel)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )