There are two movies I remember as a child that gave me a sense of intense wonder and awe. One was the Last Unicorn, and the other was the Secret of Nimh. Both movies displayed an unprecedented level of maturity when tackling their respective storylines. The Secret of Nimh is much like the Last Unicorn in the sense that the plot is intelligent, and at times necessarily dark. It's a haunting movie by many standards, but strikes a better balance between comedy, excitement, and foreboding than the Last Unicorn does.
A rather simple premise opens the door to a much larger world when one watches the Secret of Nimh. The plight of Mrs. Brisbee and her children is just something one would expect to see on any farmland, especially during plow season. But when Mrs. Brisbee seeks out help from the woefully dangerous Rats of Nimh, she discovers an entire world she never knew existed.
There are many intelligent plot twists that come together nicely in this movie. A family in peril, government-funded animal experimentation and even a bit of unexplained mysticism all work together to draw the viewer in. Anyone expecting an animated film designed purely to maintain a hold over the short attention spans of toddlers will be in for a surprise. The film is absolutely gorgeous to watch, more so for its lush imagination than its actual artistic quality. Every ounce of this film drips with uniqueness, and I challenge anyone to find a movie that has the same feel as the Secret of Nimh. It is a bit less serious and melancholy than the Last Unicorn, but it still manages to eschew frivolous silliness in favor of some real depth and emotion within its characters.
Highly recommended for all ages!