Mrs. Brisby (Elizabeth Hartman) represents impressionable society. She looks for help for almost the entire movie. She also says things like “bless you” and is easily influenced. Despite what she has always heard about the “rats”, she goes to them willingly and ends up offering to help their cause all because some great being told her to.
Whenever the field animals face problems, they go to the Great Owl (John Carradine). He is the mystical God figure that is frightening and powerful. He lives in an obscure place where creatures “never see [him] and live to tell about it”, just like God in Heaven.
He even protects Mrs. Brisby from the spider, the same way people think God protects people from harm.
When he offers her his advice, Mrs. Brisby is insistent “there must be another way” than moving her ill son out. She wants someone to save her instead of moving her family herself.
After the Great Owl tells her about the rats, she says, “I don’t understand, but I will do as you say.” Similarly, many Christians follow the Bible and other teachings even when they do not entirely understand it.
Justin (Peter Strauss) is a John figure. You can think of the rats as disciples and Justen seems to be one of the main ones. Some of the creatures “don’t know what Nicodemus sees in [Justin]”, but there is a devoted relationship between the two, like Jesus and John.
Jenner represents Judas. He betrays Nicodemus and sets the wheels in motion for his death. We see Jenner is not loyal to Nicodemus and the plan to go to Thorn Valley.
Thorn Valley symbolizes a heaven-like place that seems almost unobtainable. Jenner thinks it is an “aspiration of idiots and dreamers”. However, the other rats think of it as a place to prosper and build their own civilization. We never actually see Thorn Valley in this film; therefore, it is a mythical place as far as we know, just like heaven is a mystical place to the living.
You may not agree with the characters I equated to Biblical characters. However, I do think a Christian theme is applicable to this film without having a preachy feeling.
On a different end, what do you think the deal with the string is? Jeremy (Dom DeLuise) is always tangled up in string and the film ends with him flying away with a girl and their string. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I would love your thoughts! Please comment below!
Dependence and the desire for independence fuel the motivation of most of these characters.
Another theme is machine vs nature with maybe something else going on…
Thanks for reading! See you next week!