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The Land Before Time

Theatrical poster
Directed by Don Bluth
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Executive Producers:
Steven Spielberg
Kathleen Kennedy
Frank Marshall
George Lucas
Written by Judy Freudberg (story)
Tony Geiss (story)
Stu Krieger (screenplay)
Narrated by Pat Hingle
Starring Gabriel Damon
Candace Hutson
Judith Barsi
Will Ryan
Pat Hingle
Helen Shaver
Burke Byrnes
Bill Erwin
Frank Welker
Music by James Horner
Editing by John K. Carr
Dan Molina
Studio Amblin Entertainment
Sullivan Bluth Studios
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) November 18, 1988
Country United States
Language English
Budget USD$12,300,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue USD$84,460,846 (worldwide)[1]
Followed by The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure (1994)

The Land Before Time is a 1988 American animated film, directed by Don Bluth (with production based around his Ireland-based studio), and executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Originally released by Universal Studios and Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, it features anthropomorphic dinosaurs living in a somewhat fantasy-based version of prehistoric earth. The plot concerns a young Apatosaurus named Littlefoot, voiced by Gabriel Damon, who is orphaned when his mother is killed by a Tyrannosaurus. Littlefoot flees famine and upheaval to search for the "Great Valley", an area which has been spared devastation. On his journey, he meets four young companions: Cera, a Triceratops; Ducky, a Parasaurolophus; Petrie, a Pteranodon; and Spike, a Stegosaurus.[2] The film explores issues of prejudice between the different species and the hardships they endure in their journey as they are guided by the spirit of Littlefoot's mother. This was the only Don Bluth film in the 80s that Dom DeLuise did not star in.

The film was a critical and financial success and spawned a multi-million dollar franchise with twelve direct-to-video sequels (without association with Bluth, Spielberg, or Lucas) as well as merchandise (toys, video games, etc.) and a television series.



A drought is occurring and some dinosaurs are heading to the "Great Valley", an area with lots of leaves. A "Longneck" (Apatosaurus) herd gives birth to a single baby, named Littlefoot (Gabriel Damon). Cera (Candace Hutson), a "Three-horn" (Triceratops), plays with Littlefoot for a while until a "Sharptooth" (Tyrannosaurus) attacks. Littlefoot's mother intervenes, battling with the Sharptooth and suffering severe injuries, but managing to defeat him by pushing him into a deep chasm. At the same time, an "earthshake" (earthquake) occurs, opening a deep ravine in the ground, which swallows up the Sharptooth and a great deal of other dinosaurs, and separates many herds, including Littlefoot's and Cera's. Littlefoot finds his mother when the earthquake ends, but she is mortally wounded, and near death. Before dying, she tells Littlefoot that she'll be with him and gives him instructions on how to get to the Great Valley. She instructs him to follow the "bright circle" (sun) past the "great rock that looks like a longneck" and then past the "mountains that burn" (volcano).

He meets a "Swimmer" (Parasaurolophus); named Ducky (Judith Barsi), who asks to join him. As they travel, and try to find food along the way, they encounter an aerophobic "Flyer" (Pteranodon) named Petrie (Will Ryan), who joins them on their quest. Cera bumps into them and warns them of Sharptooth, but Littlefoot does not believe her, being convinced that Sharptooth is dead. As Cera describes the encounter (exaggerating her bravery), she accidentally flings Ducky near a patch of grass, which has a hatching egg containing a baby "Spiketail" (Stegosaurus). Ducky names him Spike and brings him into their band.

The Sharptooth attacks them in the morning, but they escape through a cave-tunnel too small to admit him, and discover a Longneck-shaped monolith mentioned by Littlefoot's mother. Although they pass other landmarks she mentioned, such as a string of volcanoes, Cera grows impatient as the search begins to yield no results and quarrels with Littlefoot, causing a schism in the little herd. Littlefoot continues in the direction he was told, while the others follow Cera, who goes another way. As Ducky, Spike and Petrie fall into danger involving a lava barrier and a tar pit, Littlefoot comes and rescues them.

Later, while frolicking in a pool of water, Littlefoot and his friends spot Sharptooth off in the distance. Surmising that Sharptooth cannot swim, Littlefoot formulates a strategy to defeat the carnivore by luring him into the deep end of the pond, using Ducky as bait, so that he and Spike can use large rock on top of a nearby cliff to force him into the water. The plan nearly fails when Sharptooth leaps on top of the boulder, until Cera rejoins the group, allowing Littlefoot and his friends to push both Sharptooth and the boulder off the cliff and into the water below.

Littlefoot then follows a cloud that looks and sounds like his mother. Her cloud leads him to the Great Valley, where the children's surviving relatives are already settled. Petrie and Ducky rejoin their families, and Ducky's family adopts Spike. Cera reunites with her father, and Littlefoot joins his grandparents.


  • Gabriel Damon as Littlefoot, a baby Apatosaurus who is one of the film's protagonists. Littlefoot is young, impressionable, but brave and a born "Long Neck" leader. Guiding his new found friends to the Great Valley, very little can upset his optimism. Still hurting over the loss of his mother, he uses her memory to keep going.
  • Candace Hutson as Cera, a Triceratops one of Littlefoot's companions and one of the film's protagonists. She is short tempered and as stubborn as her father is and the secondary protagonist. Becoming separated from him during the great earthquake, Cera is pitted for the first time against her hidden, frightened side. She often tries to bully her way through the others, but eventually softens and learns to care more for her friends than she does for herself.
  • Judith Barsi as Ducky, a Parasaurolophus and another of Littlefoot's companions. A "Bigmouth" whose optimism is only overshadowed by her enjoyment of a good swim. Her quoted phrase is "Yep, yep, yep!" which usually follows a positive statement. When saddened she is known to otherwise say "Nope, nope, nope." in a very unenthusiastic way. She becomes Spike's "big" sister when her family adopts him.
  • Will Ryan as Petrie, a comical Pteranodon who is aerophobic. Petrie is a timid, somewhat cowardly character. Afraid of heights, and in fact being incapable of flying, he prefers to spend his time on the back's of one of his friends rather than walking at his/her side. He eventually learns to fly and, with his power of flight, he develops a new bravery toward defending his friends of which he never though he was capable.
  • Pat Hingle as the Narrator and Rooter, an old but friendly ankylosaurid.
  • Helen Shaver as Littlefoot's Mother, an adult Apatosaurus who is killed by Sharptooth (Tyrannosaurus), though she helps Littlefoot reach the Great Valley in spirit form.
  • Burke Byrnes as Daddy Topps, Cera's father who says "Threehorns never play with Longnecks."
  • Bill Erwin as Grandfather, Littlefoot's maternal grandfather.
  • Frank Welker as Sharptooth, a Tyrannosaurus and the antagonist of the film. He kills Littlefoot's mother during the early stages of the film. He has a brutal and determined nature, pursuing the protagonists during their journey to the Great Valley. He becomes (unintentionally) blinded in his right eye by Littlefoot in their initial encounter (though it is sometimes seen open in close ups.)

Development and production

An early working title for the film was “The Land Before Time Began”.[3] Steven Spielberg and George Lucas originally wanted the film to have no dialogue, like The Rite of Spring sequence in Fantasia, but the idea was abandoned in favor of using voice actors in order to appeal to children.[4] The film was originally planned for release in fall of 1987, but the production and the release date were delayed by a year due to the relocation of Sullivan Bluth Studios to Dublin, Ireland.



Throughout production, The Land Before Time went under a severe cutting and editing of footage. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas thought that some scenes in the movie would appear too frightening or could even cause psychological damage to young children. About 10 minutes of footage, a total of 19 fully animated scenes, were cut from the final film, to attain a G rating instead of a PG rating. Much of the cut footage consisted of the Tyrannosaurus rex attack sequence and sequences of the five young dinosaurs in severe situations of peril and stress. Some scenes with the characters in the movie screaming had to be revoiced using milder exclamations by voice over artist and singer Lucy Mitchell. It was felt this would be more suitable for young children.[4] Though Don Bluth was unhappy with the cuts, and fought for all the footage, he had to settle on a final running time of 69 minutes, one of his shortest.[4] However, the uncut version has aired at least in Finnish television in the years 1995 and 1998, by mtvmedia, this means that the uncut version still exists somewhere, though Bluth has stated that the original elements were possibly destroyed.

The sequence of Littlefoot's mother's death was also going to be eliminated; however, it was thought that if the scene were removed it would complicate explaining why Littlefoot had to journey to the Great Valley alone. The scene was shown to psychologists who gave their feedback to the production team. The character of Rooter was added to the story to soften the emotional blow, and teach Littlefoot and the audience that even after loved ones die, they are always with us in the lessons we have learned from them. [4] However, brief portions of the scene which involved the mother's neck and back being bitten have since been edited out of home video releases and television airings, though this footage was present both in the theatrical cut and on earlier VHS copies of the film.

Later editing of the film was presumably done to bring the tone closer to that of the nonviolent and child-friendly sequels and television series that the franchise has become known for.


The theme song "If We Hold On Together" was sung by Diana Ross, and became a successful single. It reached #1 in Japan.

The soundtrack was released on November 21, 1988.[5]

Track listing
  1. "The Great Migration"
  2. "Sharptooth and the Earthquake"
  3. "Whispering Winds"
  4. "If We Hold On Together"
  5. "Foraging For Food"
  6. "The Rescue/Discovery of the Great Valley"
  7. "End Credits"


The film was a box office success, grossing $48 million, as well as beating the Disney film Oliver & Company which was released on the same day for the #1 spot during its opening weekend. It brought in a box office total of nearly $50 million during its domestic release, slightly more than Don Bluth's previous film, An American Tail. The movie became a hit worldwide, and while Oliver had grossed over its domestic earnings, Land grossed nearly $84 million worldwide, which the Disney film did not surpass.

At the film review site it holds a 71% Certified "Fresh"[6] from critics while the movie's fans gave it a higher score of 85% Certified "Fresh"[7].

A review in the Motion Picture Guide 1989 Annual notes that the film "has been called a sort of prehistoric Bambi", and considers it to be more in the style of a classic Disney film than Oliver and Company.[8]


In Children’s Films: History, Ideology, Pedagogy, Theory, Ian Wojcik-Andrews sees Littlefoot as a prophet and religious leader guiding the other characters to a garden of Eden;[9] Andrews also notes relatively common children's film motifs such as how Littlefoot and Cera become surrogate parents to the others.[10]


The film generated many direct-to-video sequels. Currently there are 12 sequels in circulation. The sequels depart from the style of the original significantly by adding "sing-a-long" musical numbers akin to Disney animated films, and toning down the intensity seen in the original film. Don Bluth and his animation studio have no affiliation with any of the film's sequels.

A 2007 television series was released in North America. It follows the style of the sequels in terms of the morality and the musical numbers (with some of the songs being shortened, reworked versions of songs from the sequels).


  1. ^ The Land Before Time (1985) at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ The Land Before Time DVD
  3. ^ Maltin, Leonard (1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library. pp. 354. ISBN 0-452-25993-2. 
  4. ^ a b c d The Animated Films of Don Bluth by Jon Cawley
  5. ^ page for original The Land Before Time soundtrack.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ The Motion Picture Guide: 1989 Annual. Jenny Mueller (Editor), Jeffrey H. Wallenfeldt (Senior Editor), Jennifer Howe, Michaela Tuohy (Associate Editors), William Leahy (Editorial Director). Evanston, Illinois: Cinebooks, Inc.. 1989. pp. 185–186. ISBN 0-933997-20-5. 
  9. ^ Wojcik-Andrews, Ian (2000). Children’s Films: History, Ideology, Pedagogy, Theory. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.. ISBN 0-8153-3794-9. 
  10. ^ Wojcik-Andrews (2000), p. 21.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Land Before Time is a 1988 animated film produced by Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Lucasfilm.



  • (exasperated) My name is not Flathead. My name is Littlefoot.
  • Oh, you can't quit now. What if the Great Valley's just over the top of these rocks?
  • (to Cera) Go on! Go the wrong way! We never wanted you with us anyway!
  • We did it. We did it together.
  • (last original lines) Now we'll always be together. (Note: This line was removed from the entire film.)


  • My father told me that flatheads had very small brains.
  • I found it! Hee!
  • I can get my OWN green food! (attempts to hit a tree, but no tree stars come down, so Littlefoot drops some for her, and then, Cera eats the tree stars) See? I can take care of myself all by myself. I'm not afraid to be alone, I know my way to go, AND I'm not afraid of Sharp Tooth... I hope he doesn't eat any of you!


  • Don't step on a crack, or you'll fall and break your back. (laughs, stomach growls) My stomach is talking.
  • Petrie, don't feel sad. It's alright. Many things can't fly. Rocks, trees, sticks, Spike...
  • (repeated line) Yep yep yep.
  • Spike, don't stop! We must stay together!
  • You are a we will call you Spike!
  • (trying to coax Spike out of his egg) You should come out. You should. You are late. Yes, you are. Yep yep yep.


  • You've got a nice flat head, flathead.
  • (Trying to smell for green food) I smell, I smell, I smeeelllll...hmm, Ducky.
  • (Inside the tar pit) Cera, Littlefoot-- Oh, Cera, Ducky, Spike, HEEEEEELP!
  • [as Littlefoot, Ducky and Spike save him from the tar pit] Flathead! Ducky! Spike! Oh, Petrie is so happy!


  • Food. (heard in the Finnish version)
  • Move It.
  • Hey! Stop it!
  • I wanna get out of hee.
  • (also heard laughing with the others after scaring Cera)

Littlefoot's Mother

  • Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart.
  • Let your heart guide you. It whispers so listen carefully.
  • [to Littlefoot, in cloud form] Littlefoot...

Topsy (Cera's father)

  • Come, Cera, threehorns never play with longnecks.


  • Oh... I see. Now, it is nobody's fault. The Great Circle of Life has begun, but, you see, not all of us arrive together at the end.


  • Once, upon this same earth, beneath this same sun, long before you, before the ape and the elephant as well, before the wolf, the bison, the whale, before the mammoth and the mastodon... was the time of the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were of two kinds: some had flat teeth and ate the leaves of trees, while others had sharp teeth for eating meat, and they preyed upon the leaf-eaters. Then leaves began to die. The mighty beasts who appeared to rule earth were ruled, in truth, by the leaf. Desperate for food, some dinosaur herds struck out toward the west, searching for their Great Valley - a land still lush and green. It was a journey toward life. It was a march of many dangers. Sharpteeth stalked the herds, waiting to seize any who strayed. The leaf-eaters stopped only to hatch their young.
  • All that remained of his herd was his mother, grandmother and his grandfather. He knew them by sight, by scent, and by their love. He knew they would be together, always.
  • In this time of the clashing of continents, a great earthquake split the land. Herds were divided. Families were cut in two. Littlefoot was separated from his grandparents. Cera was on one side of the divide; her parents were on the other.
  • At first, Littlefoot could only think about his mother. He hardly noticed his own hunger and had forgotten about the Great Valley and that he must somehow reach it.
  • Then Littlefoot knew for certain he was alone, and although the Great Valley was far away, the journey there was perilous. He would have to find his way, or the chain of life would be broken.
  • So the five hungry dinosaurs set off for the Great Valley. There had never been such a herd before. A long-neck, a three-horn, a big-mouth, a flyer and a spike-tail. All together. All knowing that if they lost their way, they would starve... or find themselves in Sharptooth's shadow.
  • Littlefoot had been wrong about the Sharptooth, but the others followed him. Their only hope was to reach the Great Valley, and Littlefoot alone knew the way.
  • Though, they were sourced out and tired, Littlefoot urged them on. He'd never seen the Great Valley, but his heart told him that they were close. Surely, at the top, they'd behold it, finally.
  • Cera was still too proud to admit that she'd gone the wrong way. [Cera cries]
  • And Littlefoot found his grandmother and grandfather at last. The same loving faces he'd looked into on the day of his birth.
  • [last released lines] And they all grew up together in the valley - generation upon generation, each passing on to the next the tale of their ancestors' journey to the valley long ago.


Ducky: [giggles] Mama.
Ducky's Mom: Hmm.

Littlefoot: When will we get there?
Littlefoot's Mother: The bright circle will pass over us many times, and we must follow it each day until it touches the ground.
Littlefoot: Have you ever seen the Great Valley?
Littlefoot's Mother: No.
Littlefoot: Well, then how do you know it's really there?
Littlefoot's Mother: Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart.
Littlefoot: I don't understand, Mother.
Littlefoot's Mother: You will, my son. You will.

Rooter: Hey! What's going on here?
[Littlefoot starts crying]
Rooter: What's your problem? You're not hurt.
Littlefoot: It's not fair! She should have known better! That was Sharptooth! It's all her fault.
Rooter: All who's fault?
Littlefoot: Mother's!
Rooter: Oh. I see. I see.
Littlefoot: Why'd I wander so far from home?
Rooter: Oh, it's not your fault. It's not your mother's fault. Now, you pay attention to old Rooter. It is nobody's fault. The Great Circle of Life has begun, but, you see, not all of us arrive together at the end.
Littlefoot: What am I gonna do? I miss her so much.
Rooter: And you'll always miss her. But she'll always be with you, as long as you remember the things she taught you. You'll never really be apart, for you're still a part of each other.
Littlefoot: My tummy hurts.
Rooter: Well, that, too, will go in time, little fella. Only in time.

Littlefoot: But it's the wrong way!
Cera: Who says?
Littlefoot: My mother!
Cera: Then she was stupid a long neck too.
Littlefoot: Take that back!
Cera: Never!
Littlefoot: [yelling] Take it back!!
Cera: [yells] No!

Littlefoot: [He gasps for rumble Sharptooth appears.]
Cera: Ohh, Sharptooth! Help!
Littlefoot: Mother!
Cera and Littlefoot: Help!!

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

The Land Before Time is a 1988 movie produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, and directed by Don Bluth. It was released on November 18, 1988, the same day as Disney's Oliver & Company. The movie's success led to 12 sequels being made.


The story

An orphaned long-neck dinosaur named Littlefoot goes off in search of the legendary Great Valley, a place with lots of vegetation where dinosaurs can live in peace. Along the way he meets four other young dinosaurs, each one a different species, and they encounter several problems as they learn to work together in order to survive.


There are five main characters known as the "Gang of Five:"

Littlefoot: The leader of the gang, Littlefoot is a "long-neck," the in-universe name for Apatosaurus. He is brave, and good at making decisions. He lives with his grandparents in the Great Valley.

Cera: Cera is a "three-horn," also known as a Triceratops. She is stubborn and does not trust easily. She is the most aggressive of the group. She lives with her father for most of the movies, but gains a new mother in the 11th movie and a younger sister in the 12th movie.

Ducky: Ducky has been called a "Swimmer," "Big Mouth," and "Duckfoot" on screen, so it is not known for sure what kind of dinosaur Ducky is. She looks most like a Saurolophus, but she is called a Parasaurolophus on the Land Before Time Website [1]. She is the nicest of the group, and trusts others easily. She lives with her mother and father (though her father is not often seen) and is one of thirteen twins. She also has her adopted brother Spike.

Petrie: A "flyer," or a Pteranodon, Petrie gets scared very easily and is too trusting, but he is loyal and can be brave at important times. He lives with his mother and brothers.

Spike: Spike is the youngest of the group. He is a "Spiketail," which is a Stegosaurus. Spike does not talk, though it was shown in the 4th movie that he can when he wants to. He enjoys eating and lets Ducky sit on his back if she needs to. Ducky is his older sister, since she adopted him during the first movie. He lives with Ducky's family.

Also of note is a "Sharptooth" named Chomper, who was born in the 2nd movie and was so popular with fans that he returned in the 5th movie and the TV series. He is friends with all the main characters, despite his natural instincts telling him to eat them.


  1. The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, directed by Roy Allen Smith
  2. The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving, directed by Roy Allen Smith
  3. The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists, directed by Roy Allen Smith
  4. The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  5. The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  6. The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  7. The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  8. The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  9. The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  10. The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  11. The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers, directed by Charles Grosvenor
  12. The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends, directed by Jamie Mitchell

There are rumors that The Land Before Time XIV (2010) will be made.

In addition to the movies, there is The Land Before Time: Sing-Along Songs (1997) and The Land Before Time: More Sing-Along Songs (1999)

TV Series

After the success of the original movie and its sequels, a television series based on the movies began airing on YTV in Canada as a test on January 5, 2007. It aired in Canada, Britain, and the United States of America, and had 26 episodes. It then aired on Cartoon Network in the United States on March 5, 2007 where it was animated after the DVD release of The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers.[1] In the UK, it was once shown just on Boomerang, showing every day at 4pm, but it is now programmed on its sister preschool channel Cartoonito. It brought back Chomper as a main character, and introduced a new friend, an Oviraptor named Ruby, who helps the other dinosaurs learn lessons and solve problems.


  1. "The Land Before Time" (2007)

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