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 Post subject: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:48 pm 
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Okay, let's talk about this supernatural element in the room [read: original movie].

THE AMULET

It's the new thing that separates the original book from the film, and it both helps and harms the final product... at least for animation fans and book-purists alike.

BACKGROUND:
What is it about the amulet that we know?
- It's rodent-sized yet mighty powerful when the red stone on the front glows red; Nicodemus himself tells Mrs. Brisby that "it becomes a blinding radiance" when worn by someone with "a courageous heart".
- The inscription on the back reads "You can unlock any door if you only have the key".
- Jonathan Brisby made it [or was that "meant it"? Nicodemus does tell Mrs. Brisby that he "meant it" for her... was it a gift of some sort?], though Nicodemus had it after the day Jonathan was killed.
- It is definitely supernatural and an unknown entity [well, duh. It's near sentient at the end when it flies out of the mud and towards a sorrowful Mrs. Brisby at the climax.].
- Jenner wants it [Evil always wants powerful items, right?] and so does Jeremy [He just wants it to attract a girl. He's not wrong, mind you... we ladies dig a guy with a "sparkly". :wink: ].

What are the unknowns about the amulet?
- Did Jonathan actually make it? If he didn't, who did and how did Jonathan find it?
- Where did the materials come from, mainly that stone?
- When did it get made - before or after arriving at the rosebush?
- Why would the rats of NIMH have such a power anyway? If they had this, why do they continue to steal from the Fitzgibbons?
- What the heck is the real meaning of the inscription?
- Why did Jonathan mean for his wife to have the amulet?


What we can easily discover about this, though, is that the stone had been used before. How else would its power be known otherwise, especially by Nicodemus? If anything, I believe that Jonathan himself used it for some purpose [given his nature... or at least the nature we know he has anyway, it was probably to save the rats, the ones that he considered as his second family] before giving it to Nicodemus for safe keeping. My guess is that he [Jonathan] feared the ones that would misuse the stone's abilities and hid it with someone he trusted, this being Nicodemus. However, we do know that Jenner somehow knew of the stone and what it was capable of, so perhaps he assisted in its creation, eavesdropped a conversation of Jonathan's about the amulet... or actually saw it in action.

Also, maybe... just maybe, I feel that Jonathan knew his wife would need its light one day, given how she's naturally meek and fearful of a lot of things. It had been 4 years since leaving NIMH, so the two of them had to have been together for at least a couple of years tops. That's more than enough time for a couple of mice to learn about each other [though he kept the "Secret of NIMH" from her, even postmortem], as well as having four kids and him teaching their kids and her how to read the basics [if anything, that's the closest hint to his secret, though I doubt she ever would have figured that out on her own]. Perhaps he cared so much for her that he wanted something to be available for her whenever the direst of moments came [when she'd need the help of his second "family" and would learn the secret he kept from her all this time], but I doubt he could have predicted his youngest son falling ill, the frost thawing early and, of course, his untimely death by Dragon.

It's a theory, but not a bad one... and it's my thoughts on it. [Yes, I like the movie-verse versions best. I'm not too big on the book's details though; I really need to reread it and the sequels to get reacquainted with the series once again.]


So now, it's your turn, NIMH-fans! [anything to get some conversations going, yes?]

What are your headcanons about the magic amulet? Did you think it was necessary in the film version? Should it have been in the sequel? Would you like it to return in the upcoming NIMH reboot?

Let's discuss!

- Juuchan17

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:49 am 
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Okay, so I figured I'd get some responses moving on this, as it is an interesting topic for discussion.


I guess I am one of what you refer to as "book-purists", as my first exposure to the world of the NIMH storyline was through Robert C. O'Brien's excellent book, back when I was only about eight years old. I fell in love with that book immediately, and I still have the original copy (though it's seen better days). I suppose, had my first exposure to this storyline been through Don Bluth's also-excellent movie, my loyalties and views would probably be different than they are. However, it would have been when I was a teenager (I was fifteen years old when I first saw the movie, during its original theatrical release). Either way, as an adult, I would have been far more discerning and analytical about both products, and formed more intelligent and thoughtful (and logical) decisions and opinions at that point, regardless of which product I developed a loyalty for. And being an adult, that is precisely how I analyze both.


In truth, I love both--though I prefer the book. I freely acknowledge that Don Bluth is one of the greatest and most creative individuals to ever have worked in animation, and that he certainly has brought us some of the greatest and most memorable animated movies to ever grace the big screen (The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, An American Tail, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Anastasia and, of course, the ground-breaking arcade video game Dragon's Lair...which I remember playing a lot as a kid in the coin-op arcades). And, of course--and unfortunately, an equal number of flops (Rock-a-Doodle, Thumbelina, The Pebble and the Penguin, Bartok The Magnificent, A Troll In Central Park and Titan A.E.). But the book is just full of much richer (and simply more) content...even if that is to be expected when taking a book versus a movie which is based upon it. But enough about the author and the director...and the book versus the movie.







I will not deny that the magical aspects of the movie were the biggest disappointments for me. Not when I originally saw it, mind you (though those things did bother me a little back then). But years later, as an adult, analyzing the book's story against the adaptation of the movie, it bothered me a lot. I can take a pretty good guess at WHY this element was added...no matter what we all may say, Bluth's movies--like most animated films--are aimed at very young audiences. Kids, in other words. And the book, while still being a children's book, is rather more cerebral and logic-based than the movie. The prose has a nice way of not talking down to its readers like many children's books do. But adding a touch of magic certainly catches a young viewer's attention better than how the climax of the story is resolved in the book, which is far more literal and plausible.


The book has no magic in it whatsoever. While the concept of intelligent, resourceful rats and mice seems a bit far-fetched, it is not out of the realm of possibilities (as you can note from the information I added on this page on The Secret of NIMH Source, if you scroll down to the subsection "Parallels In Real Life": http://www.animationsource.org/nimh/en/info_general/&id_film=30). In the book, it's the ingenuity, resourcefulness and determination of the rats of NIMH which saves the Frisby home...not some mysterious magical amulet. The rats succeed at using block and tackle, as well as engineering skills, to lift and move the Frisby home--in complete safety--to its new resting spot on the leeward side of the stone in the Fitzgibbon field. Of course, I didn't like the way that Bluth and his team turned a vibrant, virile and stalwart character like Nicodemus, who is presented in the book as a good leader of the rats...and very active in his leadership role, into a feeble wizard who mostly sequesters himself away in his study while the rats debate and argue their fate in the council chambers, and Jenner schemes away in relative secrecy.


What bothered me about this stone tangent was that it stole away the rats' ingenuity and resourcefulness, and gutted that important element of the story. All of a sudden, in the midst of Jenner's treachery, and his cutting of the rope lines, the rats are left scrambling, practically helpless, while the Brisby home founders into a muddy sink hole. These are not the same intelligent, resourceful and determined rats presented in the book who, even under those circumstances presented in the movie, would have found a way to keep the Brisby home from sinking out of sight completely.







So what is the stone? Well, I have what I believe to be a very sensible explanation for it. However, it's for an upcoming fan fiction that I am currently developing for The Secret of NIMH Source, and I am hesitant about tipping my hand on that just yet. My interpretation of the amulet will not only explain the mysterious powers of the stone set within it, but also how Nicodemus gained his strange powers, and his glowing eyes as well. And I plan on tying that in with some material from the book, which the movie itself left out.


This will all be in the form of a fan fiction re-imagining of the animated sequel, drawing not only upon some story elements of that sequel, but also of the original movie, the original book, and the first literary sequel which was written by O'Brien's daughter, Jane Leslie Conly. My interpretation of what the animated sequel could have (and should have) been.







Do I think Jonathan Brisby used the amulet at some point before his death? Possibly. We do know that he has gained some notoriety among the wild animals of the forest bordering the Fitzgibbons' farm. That his name is known far and wide. And that, concurrently, so are the rats of NIMH. So there is a ton of open territory for fan fiction material...a wide stretch of time between when the rats established their colony under the rose bush, on the Fitzgibbons' farm, and when Jonathan Brisby's life is snuffed out during a mission shortly before the movie (and literary) timeline. Clearly the amulet is known at least to Nicodemus, Jonathan and Jenner...and possibly Mr. Ages and Justin too. Whether or not the rest of the rats knew of it isn't at all clear from the events seen in the movie. But whether or not any of Jonathan's fame with the wild animals of the forest, or the adoration and respect he commands from the rats of NIMH, was due to any hypothetical use of the amulet is really quite a big unknown.


And remember, while it's presumed that the rats have only been living under the rose bush for four or five years (if you consider the exchange between Justin, Mr. Ages and Mrs. Brisby in the movie), it isn't firmly established how long before the rose bush colony was established that they have escaped from NIMH, nor even how long the colony existed before the rats managed to tap into the electrical lines of the Fitzgibbons' farm. The book, however, is a bit more specific in that spread of time, mentioning a few key things: first, that the rats (and mice) had clearly been kept at NIMH for "a few years" (though it doesn't specify how many). And that, after their escape, it took another nearly two years of wandering and searching before they came upon the Fitzgibbon farm and the rose bush. Given that domesticated rats in real life only live a maximum of four years or so (domestic mice, generally three years at most), whereas wild rats and mice routinely live less than one year (though they can live a bit longer), it's obvious that only those injections at NIMH could give the rats and the mice the longevity they needed to eventually settle and prosper in Thorn Valley.


Do I believe that Jonathan Brisby crafted the amulet, along with its inscription? I don't know. I'm sure he had a hand in it...as Nicodemus probably did. But I am certain the line in the movie, spoken by Nicodemus in presenting the amulet to Mrs. Brisby, is "come...Jonathan meant it for you" (not "made it for you"). Certainly Nicodemus was honoring his friend by keeping the amulet safe for Mrs. Brisby, so that he could eventually give it to her, as her husband intended. When was it crafted? My fan fiction will explain my views on that, but I don't know that anyone can say precisely when it was made. It could have been made shortly before Jonathan Brisby was killed. Or a year or more prior to that. There's just no way of knowing.


Clearly the amulet has strong ties to Jonathan Brisby, and it's very likely that he was its owner and/or its keeper. So, if something happened to him, it follows that his wife and children would inherit it. All of this is made clear by what Nicodemus tells Mrs. Brisby when he first shows her the amulet. Is it sentient, as you suggest? I doubt it. I think that, when we see it rising from the mud, it's just a part of the magical aspects of that particular subplot.


As to its inscription? Well, we know that Mrs. Brisby is a shy, unassuming and demure mouse--you even said so yourself in calling her "meek", which she is. Not a bold, strong and heroic type (though she definitely does demonstrate those qualities when the situations she's forced into, during the course of the story, demand them of her). Her husband would have been keenly aware of her shy, meek and demure qualities. I think the explanation of what the inscription means is made clear by how Nicodemus explains the amulet's power to her: "when worn by one with a courageous heart, the stone glows red, and becomes of blinding radiance. Courage of the heart is very rare...the stone has a power, when it's there." The key, of course, is courage. And any door which needs unlocking would translate as any difficulty faced by one wearing the amulet.


I don't think Jonathan knew what trials his wife and family would face without him either. I think he simply knew of the amulet's power, and bequeathed it to them not only for safe keeping, but also in the event that, one day, they might need it. (Of course, this also begs an unrelated question, when you consider the animated sequel, and even the first literary sequel: did Nicodemus and Jonathan have a plan to groom Timothy, specifically, as his successor? To take his place in the then as-yet-to-be-realized Thorn Valley community? That's probably a discussion for a separate topic. XD)

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 4:08 pm 
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The amulet sure is the primary difference between the original book and the film adaptation. Actually, I think that the reason Don Bluth brought the Stone into the plot was because we have Jenner as the main villain, who is out to assassinate Nicodemus, while in the book he simply deserted the Rats before the main events take place.

Speaking of the Stone, I have been using it as the central plot in my Secret of NIMH fanfic - however, rather than having a magical amulet, it's a copy of the famous Rosetta Disk, whose 'power' is the human knowledge edged in it. I won't get into full details here, but the story is basically an AU, where we have an interstellar mission to Alpha Century, where a stranded astronaut discovers a planet inhabited by the Rats of NIMH, in a similar fashion to the old Planet of the Apes movie...

I have plans of uploading the story here once it's finished, but I could use some advice...


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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 4:24 pm 
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Sharks - PM me (use the "private message" link at the top of a source page, or the top of the forum), or just use the "PM" link at the bottom of one of my posts, and I'd be happy to help you.

Welcome to the sources, and thanks for the contribution!

(Did you perhaps mean "Alpha Centauri" in what you said in your post?)

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 6:37 pm 
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I think Juuchan's arguments, as it relates to the movie-verse, make a lot of sense. I'm intrigued by what JC suggest, though, particularly the idea that Jonathan had plans for Timothy in particular. JC, will that play a role in your Secret of NIMH fanfics?

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 8:03 pm 
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Dragon Tamer wrote:
I think Juuchan's arguments, as it relates to the movie-verse, make a lot of sense. I'm intrigued by what JC suggest, though, particularly the idea that Jonathan had plans for Timothy in particular. JC, will that play a role in your Secret of NIMH fanfics?

I don't know that I envision Jonathan choosing one son over another as better suited to fill his boots, as it were. More that, in keeping with how Timothy is described in the book, that he would seem to fulfill the role better than Martin. Heck, even in the animated sequel, there are clear indications that Timothy is the better choice...more sensitive and thoughtful, but willing to tackle adventure and eager to try it. The biggest twist will be how I explain, through the story, the whole amulet and stone thing. The story is being written now. Shouldn't be too long. I am not devoting much length to it. Sort of a short-ish story. I think. We'll see.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 7:51 pm 
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Here's a thought which crossed my mind - feel free to use it if you wish. Suppose the stone were intended to be a power source, but because of its metaphysical nature it operated by rules too different from technology for it to power said tech. Consider, if you will, that the stone apparently required two things to unleash its power: courage and will. In order to use it as a sustainable energy source, the rats would have had to find a way to maintain both of those over an extended period of time. However, the kind of courage required, as seen in the movie, was relating to an immediate crisis and most likely could not be sustained over an extended period. Similarly, it would take a rare person to maintain the focus of will needed to channel the stone's power into the rats' various machines for any meaningful length of time. Trying to provide the stone with the courage and will necessary to make it work in a controlled environment, then, would be virtually impossible - completely impossible in the end once the time factor was added. It would also be unethical, since the effort would probably be very unhealthy for the person doing it.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 2:30 pm 
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Thank you very much for the suggestions, DT. Of course, I'm already in the midst of writing it (and it's slow going, because I want to make sure I get this right, and not rush it). But I have already figured out a cause & effect, if you will, and a basis for the stone's power. I think you'll like the results. Well, I hope so anyway!

But I'm not going to give any clues. lol I want the surprise to hopefully be worth the wait! (Sorry it's taking so long!)

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 5:14 pm 
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Well, considering my own penchant for leaving people hanging when it comes to my stories, I guess I'm hardly in a position to protest from the receiving end.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:47 am 
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Had a death in the family which has sort of slowed things down a bit. Should be back up and running very shortly...

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:56 pm 
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Ouch. Sorry to hear that.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:35 am 
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Dragon Tamer wrote:
Ouch. Sorry to hear that.

Thank you. It's actually been a very hard year for my family...in total, while there has only been one human family member who has passed, we lost two beloved family dogs as well. It's been a lot to sort through.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:24 pm 
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Sounds like it.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:39 pm 
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FYI, DT...I wanted to let you know that I'm back on writing this thing. I had taken a break while helping to design Despicable Me Source (Minions Source) and then, while simultaneously trying to write some of the fan fiction during that period (which was probably a mistake, juggling too many things at once), I wrote myself into a corner. I decided then that I had to put it aside and leave it for a bit, to think through how I was going to get out of that corner.

As you know, DM Source is done (but for minor things), and I am pleased to note that, earlier this week, I started writing myself out of that corner I was in! lol It was a tremendous relief too, because I really want to TRY to get this thing done. I have been very reticent where fan fiction material is concerned, and my previous stuff is years old now (and needs rewriting). So I'm overdue for some new material to be released.

I'm gonna go slow & steady until it's finished. But it shouldn't be too long.

Just wanted to keep you up to date, and assure you that I haven't forgotten or simply given up...since I know you were interested in how I was going to do this story and explain the stone.

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 Post subject: Re: Headcanon Discussions: The Magic Amulet
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:18 pm 
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Glad to hear all's well. :) I've been thinking about getting back to White Legend: Reborn myself after cranking out three Land Before Time fanfics (all short) and a rough draft of a We're Back! fic as well.

My main focus has been on articles, though; maybe I should see what I can cook up for SoNIMHS.

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