At the time of writing this I’ve got Don Bluth’s ‘Titan A.E.’ on in the background. In my opinion it’s an underrated film (much like many of Don Bluth’s feature films) but it got me thinking about a film I absolutely loved as a child, The Secret of NIMH.
If you haven’t seen ‘NIMH’ and you’re a fan of animation then I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don Bluth’s work was rivalling that of Disney’s at the time and presented a more sophisticated and somewhat darker style of animation that respected it’s audience rather than dumbing itself down.
So why all this rambling about The Secret of NIMH and it’s style? Well while searching the internet to see if there was any news of an upcoming ‘Blu-ray’ edition I found this unfortunate image of the DVD release:
Not sure where to begin here. Firstly this looks about as far as you can get from the film, it doesn’t capture the mood or anything about the story but places the now bright, colourful and somewhat cheaply illustrated main characters smiling all together with not a care in the world. This couldn’t be further from the truth in terms of plot and animation style.
It’s not just the artwork that suffers. It shows how much as a society we closet our youth from anything that might be somewhat ‘real’ or intriguing. The design is clearly advertising the film as something it’s not and this false advertising ruins the film for an audience expecting to see something completely different. Ironically The Secret of NIMH does deal with issues that everyone can relate to. From death and the scientific testing of animals to love and a mother’s courage to protect her family at any cost this film inspires and respects its audience enough to enjoy it on many levels. It’s thought provoking even for a child and Don Bluth’s animation is the perfect tool to distance the child from a harsh reality but at the same time still teaching.
Now if I can show off one of the posters for the film on it’s original release:
This poster filled me with wonder and curiosity. There’s so much going on, so much detail and character in the illustration that it immediately captures my attention. More than that, it tells the story of a struggle, not every thing’s fluffy and light and ‘full of Disney songs’.
Even in An American Tail, regarded more as a Don Bluth film with a wider appeal, the poster artwork was impressive and detailed. It tells the story in one frame simply and effectively:
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the DVD release:
More and more I find artwork that looks lazy or cheaply put together without any storytelling ability. I always thought the phrase was, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’… and I can only see about one.