Disturbing Bluth #6: Meeting Brutus in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

I couldn’t leave The Secret of NIMH without talking about this one moment in particular. To this day it never fails to make me jump in surprise (though thankfully not in fear like it used to), and that is the moment when Mrs. Brisby encounters Brutus the rat.

The Secret of NIMH (1982)- Into the Rosebush/Brutus

Up until this point, Brisby’s journey through the rose bush has only been mildly scary, but nothing close to disturbing (no mouse eating spiders this time). I’m still surprised that she got as far as she did without encountering any rats, but given we later learn that the rats are in a special meeting, it makes sense.

What makes the run-in with Brutus even more disturbing is, right before it happens, Mrs. Brisby discovers a beautiful garden (with awestruck music to highlight the moment). There are flowers everywhere and what looks like a jeweled brooch leading into the next part of the bush. But here is where Mrs. Brisby’s luck finally runs out. Just as she’s leaving this area, all the flowers around her close up and I’ve always taken this as a clue that something is about to happen because out of nowhere (literally, it’s a textbook jump scare) comes Brutus, a huge rat with a scary looking pike (that emits electricity when banged against the ground).


It doesn’t help any that the moment Brutus appears the background turns dark and red. Even worse, Brutus doesn’t say a word to the terrified mouse, even when she plainly states her purpose is to see Nicodemus and that the Great Owl sent her. If anything, the words seem to provoke Brutus into striking out with the pike again. It’s terrifying, disturbing, and for many years I did not watch this film because of this moment. The house sinking couldn’t keep me away, Jenner or the Great Owl couldn’t either, but Brutus? Oh yes, he scared me plenty, even though a closer examination of the scene reveals that the rat is only chasing her away and not actually trying to kill her.

The one thing about this scene that has always bothered me (besides its disturbing nature) is, why did Brutus stop chasing Mrs. Brisby? If he really wanted to make sure she was leaving, he should have chased her all the way back to the entrance. Instead he just…stopped. It just feels weird to me, especially since on the way back in with Mr. Ages, the pair of mice don’t encounter Brutus again (or if they do it’s not shown, but you’d think there’d be a scene where the older mouse would tell the rat “She’s with me.”)

That issue aside, what do you think of the scene where Mrs. Brisby encounters Brutus? Did it disturb you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #5: The House is Sinking in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

2 thoughts on “Disturbing Bluth #6: Meeting Brutus in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

  1. Pingback: Disturbing Bluth #7: Charlie Dreams of Hell in All Dogs Go to Heaven | Film Music Central

  2. Sean J Hagins

    Hello! I don’t know how long ago you wrote this article, but I just encountered it. This entire movie bothers me because of points like this. I mean, the book is better in many ways, among them is the way the characters are fleshed out. Here, Brutus just seems to be…well, a brute. A mindless one, (or sadistic one) at that in that he doesn’t speak, and doesn’t care who Mrs Brisby is or why she is there. In the book, he was a guard, but more of a young and confused one. He gladly backs down once Mrs Frisby’s (note the name change) is explained to be a friend to the rats, and he becomes a good friend of hers.

    In fact, even Jenner was not the mustache twisting villain he is in the movie. That said, the one thing the movie does that I did like was weaponise electricity (with the staff). I just wish they also did that with the swords Jenner and Justin fight with in the end (although 1982 was smack in the middle of the Star Wars trilogy, and sparking swords might be taking as shameless copying of that franchise’s signature weapon)

    Liked by 1 person


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