The Rescuers, a Disney movie beautifully showcasing the classic hand-animation , was adapted from two novels written by Margery Sharp (The Rescuers, Miss Bianca). The story follows two mice, Bernard and Miss Bianca, who both have positions in the Rescue Aid Society, an organization focused on helping those in need. Miss Bianca is presented as a high society lady, gently spoken and with no lack of volunteers to help her. Bernard is the janitor for the society, chosen by Miss Bianca to assist her when she decided to take on the newest case.
Penny, a young orphan, used a message in a bottle to send for help; while she intended to contact the orphanage, the message was found instead by the intrepid mice. Miss Bianca and Bernard search for clues there, finding a helpful old tomcat who tells them that the search for Penny has already stopped, but he recalls a woman who tried to lure Penny into a car.
Penny, we find, was abducted by Madame Medusa to retrieve the ‘Devil’s Eye,’ a pirate’s jewel located in a skull in a small cave. The mice, through investigation and with help from a multitude of other animals, make their way to where Penny is being held. While rescuing Penny, they are nearly drowned, faced with gunfire, and are chased by the Madame, who has hidden the jewel in Penny’s teddy bear. After they finally escape, Penny gives the Devil’s Eye to the Smithsonian museum, and she is adopted by a lovely family.
While the movie has an overall hopeful theme, and a positive ending, it may be too frightening for young children. The Rescuers is a clear triumph of the age-old good vs. evil, with strong themes of cooperation and courage throughout; evil is portrayed as greedy and devious. At one point, we see Madame Medusa’s dual nature as she alternates from charming to threatening Penny. The movie does show violence and danger, when Penny is nearly drowned and when Madame Medusa uses a shotgun while trying to stop Penny’s escape. Some of the animals also work against Penny’s escape, such as the crocodiles. Lastly, while seeking extra help for Penny’s escape, we see some ‘hillbilly’ stereotyped animals drinking moonshine, which they latter use to help the escape by fueling a boat with it.
There are some strong gender stereotypes, with Miss Bianca clearly portrayed as a gently spoken lady, mentioning throughout the movie things that ‘a lady must do,’ such as packing an extra suitcase of clothes before they go to rescue Penny; Penny in turn mentions early in the movie her fear that she wasn’t adopted due to not being pretty enough. However, we also see Penny display great courage throughout the movie, and she plays a large part in her own rescue.