Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.

It took me a little time to get used to the tone, once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A much deeper look into the story behind The Secret of NIMH, which I’ve seen plenty of times as a youngster. It’s much better descriptively and has more fluidity didn’t quite carry over to the movie. To me the movie seemed awkward, mostly due to the actress voicing Mrs. Frisby. I was annoyed even as a child over this, but the action and character O’Brien created covers my background memories with a nice haze which makes it much easier to dive into this story with a fresh perspective.

Then Jeremy the Crow makes an appearance when he lets Mrs. Frisby privy to the legendary oldest Owl in the woods who gives advice depending on his whimsy. And when Jeremy offers to fly her to the owl’s tree and back and thinks of her child and how it solidifies her resolve into doing something she fears, she agrees to Jeremy’s offer and is polite about it. (I maintain, this is much better than the movie.)

It’s so exciting and mysterious. Also I believe I’m doing a better job of reading it to myself than the voice actors were in acting out the scene. Grr. Argh. Once she meets the rats of Nimh and is waiting for them to finish their meeting, she’s placed in the library to wait where they also happen to have their plan written out on a board.

It begins to read like Lewis Carroll. Quite nice flow and interesting “mystery”. (Also once getting to Nicodemus’ experience in the maze and tests with the neurologist, it reminds me of pre-Ninja Turtles, Splinter.) Also, we get a closer look at Justin and how heroic he became in his valiant escape attempts whilst being tested along with the other rat prisoners. The book gives a better description of the rats of NIMH, how they lived, the living quarter they expanded and The Plan is told plainly, as well. Which supports the idea of abandoning living like an animal and becoming more civilized due to intelligence. It definitely poses both sides of the human personality and how we debate a situation to death and still not come to a satisfiable-to-both-sides agreement.

When Mrs. Frisby is captured by the boy Farmer’s son, she learns Mr. Fitzgibbon had heard a story which had made him share his rat experience on his farm, which I do not remember being mentioned in the movie, where he now has the government officials coming in to inspect the farm and possibly capture the rats since they couldn’t recover the ones mentioned to him. It opens discussion to the family about the reason for such serious caution, which was thought to be an outbreak of rabies. By the end of the chapter, it’s  discovered if Mrs. Frisby succeeded with the important part of the mission and if she’ll be able to share with Nicodemus the news she overheard.

Mrs. Frisby contemplates her position and what her children might think of her late absence. Justin proves her theory was accurate when he arrives to aid her, which I remember being different from what happened in the movie, though it’s been years since my last viewing. Once Justin gets her out and they’re on their way, Mrs. Frisby informs Justin of the news she learned and Justin states how fortunate the rats are to have met her, since the rats plan would’ve been severely damaged if not completely ruined without the information learned. When they reach her home, a friend is there defending her property like a “bohss”. (I appreciate the rats respectful patience toward Mrs. F.’s buddy, too which shows a side of humanity slowly dying in America, as far as I’m aware.) When the description of how they move the home is explained, it calls to mind any of Disney’s fairy-tale cartoons or Merry Melodies. By the end of the chapter, her home is moved and Justin suggests Mrs. F. should put her children to bed whilst they finished minor detailing which is all made to seem to take under 15 minutes or so. Quite impressive and showing the imagined comfort of the start of what was hoped to stay to being “American hospitality”. I imagine Switzerland or Canada being the new or steady and highest hospitable peoples.

Mrs. F. and clan are safe and when she awakens she feels a long overdue sense of safety and peace, but then begins to wonder and have growing concern for the rats and their plight when Brutus comes a-calling. She is requested to attend a meeting being held by Nicodemus so he can ask her more about the conversation between the family she overheard. Mrs. F. for the first time I can recall, sounds “…small in the big room…”, which would be the only reason for the movie version’s voice actress to sound like a squeaky, bumbling, unintelligible protagonist. The meeting goes well for her since she was able to fully remember the conversation verbatim and was able to answer questions given with tact and plainness of speech. Something the writer(s) of the film may have been able to help in the creating of it. As a child, I was baffled by the speech-patterns in the movie. They also cover the title of the newspaper article describing the strange occurrence: Mechanized Rats Invade Hardware Store. Making it seem like the dead rats were suspected of stealing tools besides being next to the motor when they were electrocuted. Nicodemus and others then begin deducing the possibilities of what and if the doctors in town are from NIMH and whether they’ve found Jenner’s H.Q. They continue brainstorming on what they’ll do when the M.D.’s come to the farm and if they could convince them they aren’t “special” rats. Their plan becomes one where 10 rats must stay behind, and all of the strongest and brightest volunteer first before 800 more. O’Brien has made his point concisely and consistently. They stick together and use voting system whilst also being efficient. They really are, undeniably exceptional rats. They don’t leave those chosen helpless, though which is nice.

Meanwhile Mrs. Frisby returns home and is noticed by the children she looks sad. She gives them answers enough to satisfy their curiosity and decides to recount the whole story to them another day. Mrs. Frisby can’t stop thinking about not wanting to watch what happens to the rats, but needing to overlook the area somehow, comes up with a great vantage point helps her watch to see the rats plan, hopefully go smoothly.

The exterminators come to bulldoze and blast the rose bush with cyanide. The rats plan goes smoothly with only 3 MIA’s. The rats then bait the humans in a way like a scene in the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot. One more rat reappears, unbeknownst to all but Mrs. Frisby. The humans begin to unearth the rats second escape tunnel. They uncover two rats in the main room where the gas came in and take the bodies with them. (When the humans leave, Mrs. Frisby runs to where the now motionless last rat is left lying, showing Mr. Ages trying to move who it turns out to be…I won’t say yet, because I’m feeling evil. I will say Mr. Ages had decided to think ahead as well and prepare an antidote to the poison.) So he’s obviously one lucky rat. When never-said-which rat confesses what he remembers of the moment before and after the cyanide, it’s not only an enlightening perspective, but the rat whom helped him out, sacrificed himself for the one rat left behind, sadly. Last act of obvious heroic behavior.

The Fitzgibbon’s go about starting a veggie garden right next to Mrs. Frisby’s freshly deposited home. Safely hidden, but with the weather being good for growing, it means the family will be loitering in the area so, this is when Mrs. Frisby and clan move to their summer home. An idyllic, less isolated life. After a day of relaxation, Mrs. Frisby decides to share the story with her children since they should know their history and how it’s linked to their father. O’Brien is tidy about leaving all information filled in as needed. The children also speculate who the heroic rat was and wanting to go to Thorn Valley figure out the truth. The only opening he allows is Martin’s excitement in contacting Jeremy so he could try to visit the rats. Mrs. F. allows him the hope in imagining and gets them all to bed. Quite abrupt and peaceful ending. It’s a fine way of completing it, even if Martin’s part isn’t reprised in the sequel, it’s still solid enough since every other possible side-story is cleaned up and the slight mystery which isn’t, is minor.


One thought on “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.

  1. Pingback: Racso and the Rats of N.I.M.H. | Book Fiend

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