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Land before time xlg poster

The Land Before Time is a 1988 theatrical 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, who is orphaned, or so it is long believed, as his father is shown to still be alive in film X, 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 Saurolophus; Petrie, a Pteranodon; and Spike, a Stegosaurus.[1] 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.

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

Voice actors[]

English voice cast[]

  • Gabriel Damon as Littlefoot (main protagonist)
  • Will Ryan as Petrie (tritagonist)
  • Candy Huston as Cera (dueteragoinst)
  • Judith Barsi as Ducky (one of the two tetartagonists)
  • Frank Welker (uncredited) as Sharptooth (main antagoinst)

Secondary Characters[]

  • Pat Hingle as the Narrator/Rooter
  • Helen Shaver as Littlefoot's Mother
  • Burke Byrnes as Daddy Topps
  • Bill Erwin as Grandpa Longneck

Japanese voice cast[]

  • Minami Takayama as Littlefoot
  • Maaya Sakamoto as Cera
  • Satomi Kōrogi as Ducky
  • Yūji Mitsuya as Petrie
  • George Nakata as Daddy Topps

NOTE: The Japanese voice actors are appearing so far.

Swedish voice cast[]

  • Samuel Elers-Svensson as Littlefoot
  • Hanna Alström as Cera
  • Cecilia Schiöld as Ducky
  • Sven-Erik Vikström as Petrie
  • Olof Thunberg as Narrator
  • Sture Hovstadius as Rooter
  • Gunnel Fred as Littlefoot's Mother
  • Stephan Karlsén as Daddy Topps
  • Bill Erwin as Littlefoot's Grandfather

Spanish voice cast[]

  • Rigoberto Jiménez as Littlefoot
  • Marcela Bordes as Cera
  • Laura Bustamante as Ducky
  • Javier Pontón as Petrie
  • Guadalupe Romero as Littlefoot's Mother
  • Alejandro Abdalah as the narrator

French voice cast[]

  • Sauvane Delanoë as Ducky
  • Roger Carel as Petrie

Finnish voice cast[]

  • Kasimir Pennanen as Littlefoot
  • Satu Nurmi as Cera
  • Anu Parviainen as Ducky
  • Mona Kortelampi as Petrie
  • Jarmo Harjula as Spike
  • Ulla-Maija Savolainen-Häkkä as Littlefoot's Mother

Parmean voice cast[]

  • Marsel Pean as Littlefoot
  • Husu Mata as Cera
  • Pana Muhel as Ducky
  • Moki Mata as Petrie
  • Mario Mopez as the Narrator
  • Judith Jones as Littlefoot's Mother
  • Mike Bryan as Daddy Topps
  • Bicky Nunes as Rooter


File:Littlefoot with Mother.jpg

Littlefoot and his mother, discussing the legend of the Great Valley.

In a time overlapping the Jurassic Period and Cretaceous Period, a drought is occurring and several herds of dinosaurs seek an oasis known as the "Great Valley". Among these, a diminished "Longneck" herd gives birth to a single baby, named Littlefoot (Gabriel Damon). Years later, Littlefoot plays with Cera (Candace Hutson), a "Three-horn", who was trying to smash a beetle until her father (Burke Byrnes) intervenes; whereupon Littlefoot's mother (Helen Shaver) names different kinds of dinosaurs: "Three-horns", "Spiketails", "Swimmers", and "Flyers" and states that each has historically remained apart. That night, as Littlefoot follows a "Hopper", he encounters Cera again, and they play together again briefly until a large dark green "Sharptooth" attacks. He almost has them, before Littlefoot's mother comes to their rescue and faces off with Sharptooth. During their fight, she suffers severe injuries in her back and neck from Sharptooth's teeth and claws. At the same time, an "earthshake" opens a deep ravine that swallows up the Sharptooth and divides Littlefoot and Cera from their herds. Littlefoot finds his mother just as she's dying, and receives her advice in favor of his intuition. Depressed and confused, Littlefoot meets an old "Clubtail" named Rooter (Pat Hingle), who consoles him upon learning of his mother's death. Littlefoot later hears his mother's voice guiding him to follow the "bright circle" past the "great rock that looks like a longneck" and then past the "mountains that burn" to the Great Valley. Sometime later, he encounters with looks like her, but he turns out to be his own shadow. With this, he is now forced to accept the fact that his mother is gone for good, but must continue his journey to the Great Valley nonetheless. On the way, Littlefoot meets Cera once again and tries to get her to join him, but she refuses. She tries to make her way across the crevasse to find her family, despite Littlefoot telling her it’s impossible, and she ends up falling in.

Later, Littlefoot is accompanied by a young "Bigmouth/Swimmer" named Ducky (Judith Barsi), whose company bears him out of his depression. Soon after, they meet an aerophobic "Flyer" named Petrie (Will Ryan). Cera, who is now lost in the dimly lit caves, finds the unconscious Sharptooth inside. Thinking he is dead, Cera harasses him, during which she mistakenly wakes him up, and flees. She later bumps into Littlefoot, Ducky, and Petrie, and tells them that the Sharptooth is alive; although Littlefoot does not believe her. She then describes her encounter (exaggerating her bravery), during which she accidentally flings Ducky into the air and discovers a hatchling "Spiketail", whom she names Spike and brings him into the group. Seeking the Great Valley, they discover a cluster of trees, which is abruptly depleted by a herd of Diplodocus. Searching for remaining growth, they discover a tree, and obtain food by stacking up atop each other and Petrie pulls off lots of treestars. Cera remains aloof; but at nightfall, everyone including herself gravitates to the Sharpttoth footprint that Littlefoot is sleeping in for warmth and companionship.

The next morning, they are attacked by Sharptooth, but escape through a cave-tunnel too small for him to fit through (although Littlefoot’s tree-star does not survive, having been crushed under the predator’s foot). Beyond this, they discover the Longneck-shaped monolith mentioned by Littlefoot's mother, and later a string of "mountains that burn". Cera grows impatient of the seemingly resultless trip and decides to go another way, but Littlefoot refuses, telling her the way she is going is wrong and when Cera refuses to retract an insult about Littlefoot's mother (whom he mentioned to back his claim), a fight between the two ensues causing a schism in the travelling party whereby Littlefoot continues in the direction he was told, while the others follow Cera. When Ducky and Spike become endangered by lava and Petrie gets stuck in a tar pit, Littlefoot rescues them; later to find Cera harassed by a pack of "Boneheads", and, having been coated in tar, scare them away. Ashamed of her fear and earlier insult to Littlefoot's mother and reluctant to admit her mistake, Cera leaves them in tears. Later, while crossing a pond, Petrie discovers the Sharptooth nearby. With this, Littlefoot plots to lure him into the water beneath a nearby boulder, intending to drown him. As Ducky (being used as bait) lures Sharptooth to the water, Littlefoot and Spike are having trouble moving the boulder. During the proceeding struggle, a draft from Sharptooth's nostrils enables Petrie to fly. Sharptooth leaps onto the boulder and the plan nearly fails until Cera reunites with the group, allowing Littlefoot and his friends to push both Sharptooth, Petrie and the boulder into the water below, momentarily taking Petrie down with him; but he later emerges unharmed. Littlefoot, alone, follows a cloud resembling his mother to the Great Valley, there to be joined by the others. Upon arrival, Petrie impresses his family with his newfound flight, while Ducky introduces Spike to her family, who adopt him. Cera reunites with her father and Littlefoot rejoins his grandparents. Cera then calls for Littlefoot to play. They join their friends at the top of a hill and embrace each other in a group hug.


  • English - The Land Before Time
  • French - Le Petit Dinosaure et la Vallée des merveilles
  • Chinese - 小脚板走天涯
  • Spanish - En busca del valle encantado
  • Spanish - La tierra antes del tiempo
  • Danish - Landet for længe siden
  • German - In einem Land vor unserer Zeit
  • Korean - 공룡시대
  • Italian - Alla ricerca della Valle Incantata
  • Hungarian - Őslények országa
  • Dutch - Platvoet en zijn vriendjes
  • Esperanto - Pirmykštė Žemė
  • Japanese - リトルフット
  • Norweigan - Lillefot og vennene hans – I landet for lenge siden
  • Polish - Pradawny ląd
  • Portuguese - Em Busca do Vale Encantado
  • Romanian - Tărâmul uitat de timp
  • Russian - Земля до начала времён
  • Finnish - Maa aikojen alussa
  • Swedish - Landet för längesedan
  • Thai - ญาติไดโนเสาร์เจ้าเล่ห์
  • Hindi -
  • Czech - Země dinosaurů
  • Welsh -
  • Bulgarian - Земята преди време
  • Arabic -
  • Cantonese -
  • Croatian -
  • Estonian -
  • Hebrew - המסע לעמק החלומות
  • Icelandic -
  • Serbian -
  • Slovak -
  • Slovene -
  • Turkish - Tarih Öncesi Topraklarda
  • Ukrainian -
  • Mandarin -
  • Greek - Η Γη Πριν Αρχίσει ο Χρόνος


  • Littlefoot and Cera play in a bubbly swamp with the Frogs.
  • Littlefoot and Cera are playing with the Frogs before sharptooth comes after them.

Deleted Scenes[]

Littlefoot and the Snake[]

File:Found the Great Valley.jpg

The gang, rejoicing upon finding the Great Valley.

The scene opens with Littlefoot foraging for food (particularly pine needles) with his mother. After eating a pine cone, the young longneck frolics away from his mother and runs into a Dinilysia. Littlefoot flees from the predator, his distressed cries alerting his mother. He then runs into a dead end, though before any damage can be done to the young dinosaur, his mother steps in to save his life and defeat the snake. After the snake is flung away, Mama Longneck and Littlefoot embrace. The scene presumably takes place not particularly long after Littlefoot's birth, judging by his design.


The animation production for The Land Before Time took place at Sullivan Bluth Studios in Dublin, Ireland. The film had originally been planned for release in fall of 1987, but the production and the release date were delayed by a year due to the studio's relocation to Dublin.

Storyline development[]

Amblin Entertainment held the idea of producing a film involving dinosaurs, on the basis that dinosaurs were a popular topic with children.[2] Steven Spielberg suggested making the film into a prehistoric version of Disney's Bambi, depicting a young dinosaur's struggles to survive and mature.[2] Eventually, more young dinosaurs were added to the story, and a decision was made to give the film a "soft, gentle" plot about five young dinosaurs working together as a group.[2] As the concept was developed more, the idea of segregation between dinosaurs of different species was added in, and the moral of the story became that the young dinosaurs, who had been taught to avoid each other, would have to look past their differences and function together.[2] As production on The Land Before Time officially began in the summer of 1986, due to delays brought on by Amblin and Universal's concerns that their previous animated film, An American Tail might flop, the story featured the main characters on a mission to find a wise old dinosaur.[2] After Sullivan Bluth Studios' move to Ireland delayed the movie's production again, full production on the movie began in the spring of 1987.[2]

As individual parties in various locations were needed to review the script for the movie, sections of the script were reviewed at a time, similarly to the old script reviewing methods the Walt Disney studios had followed decades before.[2]

An early working title for the film was “The Land Before Time Began”.[3]

Developing the characters[]

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.

Littlefoot was originally going to be called "Thunderfoot", until it was found out that there was a Triceratops in a children's book who already had that name.[4] It was George Lucas's idea to make Cera a female Triceratops,[5] when she was in mid-animation as a male named Bambo.[2][4] Steven Spielburg's son, Max, suggested the voice of Digit, from An American Tail, for the character Petrie, which resulted in Will Ryan, who had voiced Digit, performing the voice of Petrie.[2] The character of Spike was inspired by director Don Bluth's pet chowhound, Cubby.[4]

Editing of the film[]

"It's too scary. We'll have kids crying in the lobby, and a lot of angry parents. You don't want that."
Steven Spielberg, on the scenes from The Land Before Time which hit the cutting room floor.[4]

Like Disney's The Black Cauldron and The Jungle Book, which were made years earlier, and Warner Bros./Zoetrope's The Outsiders, which was made five years earlier, 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. Around 10 minutes of footage, a total of 19 fully animated scenes, were cut from the final film. A lot of the cut footage consisted of the Tyrannosaurus rex attack sequence and sequences of the five young dinosaurs in severe situations of peril and negative stress. The scene of Sharptooth landing on the back of Littlefoot's mother was altered so that it was only shown in shadow. Some early VHS of the film have been said to have the original version of the scene, though this seems to have been proven false. Don Bluth was unhappy with the cuts, and fought for all the footage, but in the end he had to settle on a final running time of 69 minutes, one of Don Bluth’s shortest; in fact one of the shortest feature films ever produced (depending on how "feature film" is defined).[2]

As of today, the original cut of the film with the removed scenes has not been released on video or DVD and it is not known if the motion footage still exists. Some stills do exist, however, including deleted Sharptooth scenes, stills from the original ending, Ducky making faces, and Spike being enticed with berries by Ducky, from a scene that was to have included Cera arguing against Spike coming with the group. A couple of these scenes apparently did make it into the movie novelization, however, and others were in the picture books released with the original film. Many fans of The Land Before Time are trying to recover these scenes and add them into the movie again. Supposedly, one tape that included the deleted scenes was sent to a Finnish company by mistake, and was aired on their TV station. However, this has not been confirmed, and could possibly be a rumor.


The Sharptooth, battling with Littlefoot's Mother.

Another part of the movie that was going to be eliminated was the death of Littlefoot’s mother. However, it was thought that if the scene were removed it would simply produce problems in explaining why Littlefoot had to journey to the Great Valley alone. In the end, psychologists were shown the scene and gave feedback to the production team. The character of Rooter was brought in to the story to soften the emotional blow, and teach Littlefoot and the audience that although loved ones may die, they are always with us in the lessons we have learned from them.[2] Shortly after the information was released, a rumor was spread that all five of the young dinosaurs died, with the Great Valley as an interpretation of heaven, as one of the deleted scenes. However, this has been denied by Don Bluth.


Littlefoot carrying Petrie

The film's ending was also altered. The original version had Littlefoot finding the Great Valley on his own, after Cera and the rest of the group go their own way. He would then have gone back to find the others and help them defeat Sharptooth, before they all entered the valley. Evidence of this ending remains in the scene of Littlefoot talking to his mother's spirit after the death of Sharptooth. The rock pushed onto Sharptooth's head is still there in the background, on its ledge, because this scene was meant to appear before the death scene. There are also a few production stills showing Littlefoot running down the path to the valley with Petrie on his head, and the narration after he rejoins the others (stating that Cera was too proud to admit she went the wrong way) makes more sense with the original ending.

File:Last original bit from The Land Before Time.jpg

"Now we'll always be together."

This ending also appears in three children's books released along with the original film, "Friends in Need", "The Search for the Great Valley", and "The Land Before Time: The Illustrated Story".

 The original ending was also to end with Littlefoot saying "Now we'll always be together.", but that bit was cut from the final version (ending only with Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike hugging each other), although it can be seen the US Pizza Hut commercial promoting the film's theatrical release and the Australian Pizza Hut commercial promoting the film's home video release. There was a scene planned to be included but cut before it was animated, where the gang happens on an oasis inhabited by a group of "crown-heads" (Pachycephalosaurus/domeheads)
who tell the group that only their own kind can eat, and "gray-noses"
(Saurolophus/bigmouths) who say only their own kind can drink. The two species refuse to share food/water, even though both will eventually die at the end. This is when Cera realises that judging others by their species is not the best thing to do. Ducky is told by the gray-noses that she can drink because she is like them, but the others cannot, so the group moves on to find their own food. This scene appears in the book "Friends in Need" and "The Land Before Time: The Illustrated Story". In "Friends in Need" the illustration is of the movie scene where the stand of trees are eaten by the longnecks, but in the Illustrated Story it shows a painted picture of the scene (although not footage from the actual movie). This scene was presumably removed to tone down the racism aspect of the film.

A scene of Ducky taunting Sharptooth by making faces in the water and part of the scene after the gang gets green-food from the tree were also cut, although they can be seen the film's theatrical trailer.

Some scenes with the characters in the movie screaming were revoiced with them having milder exclamations.[2]


Box office[]

The film was a box office success, grossing $48 million, as well as beating the Disney film Oliver & Company 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. However, it should be noted that Oliver & Company did beat out The Land Before Time at the domestic box office by about $5 million. 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.[6] Attached to the film, Universal and Amblin issued Brad Bird's Family Dog short from their television anthology Amazing Stories.[7]


Janet Maslin of the New York Times observed that Don Bluth seemed to have a tendency for making his characters "overly-cute", but that it worked to the benefit in The Land Before Time.[8] Wendy Miller of the Mohave Daily Miner described the characters as being loveable, but not excessively syrupy. She found their personalities reminiscent of Kermit the Frog, The Cowardly Lion, and Lucy Van Pelt, also said that their voice actors helped make the characters enjoyable, rather that "trite". She finished her review with "Betweeen the earthquake and Littlefoot's Mother dying, The Land Before Time gets off to a turbulent beginning. Afterward, however, it settles into a comfortable journey by endearing characters. It's a wonderful film for the entire family." Her review was titled "Animated film lives up to promises".[9] 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 the Disney movie Oliver and Company.[10] Steve Rhode's of Internet Reviews called the movie his favourite of the Land Before Time series, adding that while he did not think it was made with the same amount of effort as a Disney film would likely have been, he believed the designs and the music, including the song "If We Hold On Together", were well made, describing them as possessing a "warm and natural beauty".[11]

Hal Hinson, of The Washington Post, said that the film was entertaining, but not good enough to be considered a classic film. However, he praised it for not having the dinosaurs occasionally "pick up guitars and launch into dinosaur renditions of rock songs", like The Chipmunks and Care Bears.[12]

Geoff Andrew of Time Out gave The Land Before Time a six out of ten rating, saying that he felt Don Bluth ought to have followed An American Tail with a more adventurous film. Andrew also suggested that the movie was not educational enough for kids, what with the dinosaurs not being referred to by their scientific names.[13] The Sci-fi Movie Page rated it with two stars, and called it "not exactly much better than most Saturday morning kid television shows." They also commented briefly on the "numerous" amount of straight-to-video sequels it spawned.[14] In contrast, J.P. Harris wrote in his book, Capsule: Reviews of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films and TV Shows from 1987-1991, that the movie made the Disney film Oliver and Company seem more like a Saturday morning show, and that The Land Before Time's plot was never padded. Harris also praised the animation, and the characters for being "distinct and adorable".[15] M. Keith Booker, while noting that the film was a hit with children for its storyline, described the animation as being "unremarkable".[16] In Mark R. Leeper of the Internet Movie Database's review of the film, he writes "Apparently inspired by the art of William Stout, The Land Before Time is short on characterization as well as screen time. The idea of doing a Disney-style cartoon with dinosaurs as characters was a good one, but The Land Before Time does not deliver enough. Rating: low +1."[17] The movie got two thumbs up by Siskel and Ebert,[2] although Roger Ebert's review mentioned having a few issues with the film. Ebert believed The Land Before Time made a "strategic error" in its attempt to attract children, as he thought that the movie erases the distinction between children and dinosaurs (he earlier describes the two as being very similar). He also thought The Land Before Time copied a lot of previous animated movies, and was not surprised that it was written by the writers of An American Tail. He also said the film was too apocalyptic and tragic, with the character deaths and natural disasters, and the drought and famine featured in the film.[18] Incidentally, Ebert mistook Littlefoot to be "the last of his species", when Pat Hingle, in the role of the movie's narrator, had identified Littlefoot as the last of his herd.

In his book, Children's Films: History, Ideology, Pedagogy, Theory, Ian Wojcik-Andrews criticized what he saw as allusions to Christian beliefs, in the film. He thought that Littlefoot was meant to depict the "Chosen one", in that he was the last of his herd, and their only hope for the future. He also pointed out that the concept of Littlefoot leading Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike to the Great Valley was reminiscent of the Calvinist theology that souls can only be saved if they follow Christ, and resist temptations that will lead them astray from the path. Finally, he believed the Great Valley was overly-similar to the Garden of Eden.[19]


The Land Before Time received a 70% "Fresh" rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, while the movie's fans gave it a higher score of 78% "Certified Fresh".[20] The movie has a current rating of 7.3/10 at IMDB.com, based on 21,788 votes.[21]


In 1987, The Land Before Time was nominated for a Young Artist Award, for Best Family Animation or Fantasy Motion Picture, although it lost to Beetle Juice.[22] One year later, it received a Saturn award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films in the USA, for Best Fantasy Film. This award, however, went to Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit.[23]



There is only one lyrical song in The Land Before Time; called "If We Hold On Together". It was sung by Diana Ross, and became a hit.


  • 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"

Cultural Influence[]


Sullivan/Bluth Studios teamed with the U.S. Postal Office, JC Penny's and Pizza Hut to help promote The Land Before Time.[2] At Pizza Hut, several hand puppets of the characters Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, Spike and the Sharptooth were issued,[24] and until the public promotions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, nearly a year later, the characters were used as a feature at birthday parties held at the restaurants, and on the children's menus.[2] The U.S. Postal service issued stamps featuring Dinosaur species used in the film, as well as T-shirts featuring the stamps and the character Littlefoot.[2]

On October 25, 1990, a soundtrack was released for The Land Before Time.[25]

The movie was first domestically released on VHS and laserdisc on September 14, 1989. It was released on VHS again on November 22, 1995, February 20, 1996, May 13, 1997 (in The Land Before Time Collection) and October 14, 1997. February 20, 1996 also marked its final laserdisc release. It was first issued on DVD, with DTS, on November 18, 1997. The Land Before Time was released on VHS again in the Universal Family Features on December 1, 1998. It was reissued on DVD on May 4, 1998, and was reissued on VHS and DVD on December 3, 2001, in the 4 Movie Dino Pack (Volume 1) and the 9 Movie Dino Pack. This marked the movie's final release on VHS. It was subsequently released on DVD on March 20, 2007, in the 2-Pack with Curious George, and on November 6, 2007, in the Animated Family Favorites 3-Movie Collection, together with An American Tail and Balto.[26] The film made its first Digital debut on Google Play and Amazon Prime Instant Video in 2013. The 2003 DVD of the film was reprinted again as a Happy Faces Edition (with Littlefoot on the front cover) on February 3, 2015. The film was relased on Digital HD through Vudu on May 29, 2015. The film was released on DVD again (but, this time, in widescreen for the first time outside of HD channel airings and digital)[27] and for the first time ever on Blu-ray (with digital HD)[28] on October 13, 2015, making the new DVD its first widescreen debut on a Region 1 DVD and the second widescreen Region 1 DVD release of a Land Before Time film (the first being a 4-Movie Family Pack DVD containing widescreen releases of The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers and The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends).

Sequels and spinoffs[]

Main articles: List of The Land Before Time movies and The Land Before Time (TV series)

The Land Before Time generated twelve direct-to-video sequels (with a thirteenth direct-to-video sequel on the way in 2016), of which Don Bluth and his studio, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have no affiliation. The sequels depart from the style of the original significantly by adding "sing-a-long" musical numbers akin to Disney's animated films, using softer, more brightly-coloured animation (and in later years also including some shots in 3D animations), and toning down the intensity seen in the original film.

A television series was originally released in North America in early 2007, which 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).

TV Airings[]

The film aired on Disney Channel from the 1990s to early-2005. Then it aired on Toon Disney from 1998 to 2004. The film also aired on Cartoon Network from 1998 to November 2004. The film finally aired on HBO from July 3, 2006 (being the film's first high-definition broadcast on HBO HD) to December 2007, while it aired on Cinemax from December 2006 to 2007. It also aired on HBO Family around the same month as its first HBO airing in 2006. Then the film once again re-aired on Cartoon Network on February 25, 2008. The film re-aired on HBO on January 1, 2009, along with the HBO premiere of The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure. Both of these films aired on HBO Family on January 4, 2009. Spacetoon aired that film in the Middle East and North Africa as of March 10, 2011. In April of 2011 Starz and Encore had a hold of the movie for a year. January New Year's Day 2015, HDNet Movies got a hold of the movie.

United States[]

  • Disney Channel (1990s-2005)
  • Toon Disney (1998-2004)
  • Cartoon Network (1998-2004, 2008)
  • HBO (2006-2007, 2009-2010)
  • HBO Family (2006-2007, 2009-2010)
  • Cinemax (2006-2007)
  • Starz (2011-2012, 2016)
  • HDNet Movies (January 2015)
  • Sprout (February 2016)

Middle East and North Africa[]

  • Spacetoon (2011–present)

References in media[]

  • The 75th and 77th Academy Awards used James Horner's music from The Land Before Time.
  • The webcomic xkcd refers to Littlefoot's Mother's death in its 233rd issue.[29]
  • The 2000 Disney movie Dinosaur bears a strikingly similar plot to The Land Before Time, featuring a multi-species herd working together in a search across a barren wilderness for a verdant valley safe from carnivores.
  • At the beginning of Beethoven's 3rd, VHS covers for the first five films in the Land Before Time film series can be seen in the background of the video store. Incidentally, scenes from The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock are later shown.
  • The trailer for another Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment animated film, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story contains part of the opening music score from The Land Before Time. The soundtracks for both We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and The Land Before Time were composed by James Horner.[30]
  • An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island contains some of James Horner's music score from The Land Before Time and Michael Tavera's music scores from The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure and The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists.
  • The first official theatrical trailer for the Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment live-action/computer-animated hybrid Casper contains part of the end credits music score from The Land Before Time. Both Casper and The Land Before Time were composed by James Horner.
  • The video trailer for another Universal Pictures film Lorenzo's Oil contains James Horner's ending music score from The Land Before Time.
  • In the Disney film Brother Bear, the character Tanana said the phrase "yep yep yep!". This may be a homage to The Land Before Time character Ducky, who is noted for frequently using that line.
  • On page 111 of Test-Prep Your IQ with the Essentials of Film by David Alan Herzog, a question is given concerning which of The Land Before Time characters between Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike is not actually a dinosaur.[31]
  • The Land Before Time and its main characters are referenced in the "Throwback Trivia" in The Good Book for Great Times by Connor Pritchard and Dominic Russo. The question concerns naming three characters from the film.[32]
  • The title of The Land Before Time is referenced in the title of the first half of the Fairly OddParents episode "Land Before Timmy/Cheese and Crockers".
  • The Land Before Time and its sequels are listed in Entertainment Weekly's "14 Movie Franchises We Think Should Stop".[33]
  • The Land Before Time is referenced on page 150 of Category Neutrality: A Type-Logical Investigation By Neal Whitman.[34]
  • On pages 194-195 of the novel In a Brother's Eyes by Aiken Brown, the characters Brant and Tommy discuss getting a video of The Land Before Time for Brant's child, Brandon. Brant mentions Littlefoot as a good role model for the child.[35]
  • The Land Before Time is referenced on pages 256-257 of Donald Glut's 2001 book, Jurassic Classics: A Collection of Saurian Essays and Mesozoic Musings.[36]
  • In the 2008 movie Baghead, a video for The Land Before Time is seen on the shelf.
  • The Play Station 2 game, "Dinosaur Adventure" ("Dinosaurs" in the identical Play Station 1 game) made by Dingo Pictures refers to The Land Before Time in the title screen of the game, where a crudely drawn "Littlefoot" and a Spike/Cera hybrid are seen.
    • The "game" itself, actually an animated film packaged on a game disc, is often considered a knockoff, or "mockbuster" of The Land Before Time, featuring a plot that resembles both The Land Before Time and Disney's Dinosaur, as well as containing characters with designs heavily referenced from the film and its sequels, notably including characters heavily resembling Petrie and Chomper as its main protagonists.
  • In another dinosaur movie We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Rex's natural prehistoric state is similar to Sharptooth. At this point in time many cartoon versions of T. rex that extend outside The Land Before Time franchise were based off the Don Bluth's design and Rex was one in particular.
  • The Land Before Time is referenced in the title of Gravity Falls episode "Land Before Swine".
  • In Bambi II, Bambi has a dream where he sees his mother, where she states, "I'm always there for you, even if you can't see me."


  • This is the only film in The Land Before Time series which is not a musical.
  • Though Spike does not talk in the English version of the film, he utters a single line while climbing up the rocky mountain side in the Finnish version; "ruokaa", which translates into English as "food".
  • Bill Erwin is credited as voicing Grandpa Longneck, despite the character not speaking in the film.
  • It is unknown who voiced Grandma Longneck, though like her husband isn't heard speaking in the film. Both her only heard chuckling when their daughter gave Littlefoot his first treestar.
  • This film is the first in which Littlefoot, Ducky and Cera cry.
  • The character who alarmedly shouts "Sharptooth!" in his introductory scene differs across the various international dubs of the film.
    • Cera screamed, "Sharptooth!" in English, Hungarian, Japanese, German, and Chinese.
    • Littlefoot screamed, "Sharptooth!" in Canadian French, European French, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Greek, and Swedish.
  • To date, An American Tail and this film are the only two feature-length Don Bluth films not owned by 20th Century Fox.


  • The dinosaurs featured existed in different time periods. Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus existed in the late Jurassic period, while Triceratops, Pteranodon, Saurolophus and Tyrannosaurus existed in the late Cretaceous period.
  • Pteranodon ate fish and lived near beaches and coastal areas. It also did not have teeth, and was not able to climb trees.
  • Tarpits did not form in the Mesozoic era; they formed in the Cenozoic era. Also, the tarpit shown in the film is portrayed as a giant pool of tar, whereas a real tarpit has a layer of water and sand.
  • Littlefoot and the others steer clear of a Dimetrodon on the prowl, although Dimetrodon was extinct by the time the dinosaurs came into existence.
  • Grass is frequently seen in the film, though it did not develop until the Cenozoic era. However, ancestors of grass have been found in fossilized Titanosaur dung.
  • The main characters are shown hatching from their eggs in under a minute, whereas a young animal usually takes several hours to hatch.
  • Tyrannosaurus is not believed to have been able to jump the way Sharptooth is shown jumping in the film, though this may have been based on the Ceratosaurus jumping in a Ray Harryhausen and Willis OBrien film/documentary about animals, including dinosaurs, The Animal World (1956). Also, the Sharptooth is shown standing and walking up straight, whereas modern paleontological thought dictates that Tyrannosaurus stood and walked with its body approximately parallel to the ground.
  • Pachycephalosaurus is not a carnivore, and doesn't have sharp Deinonychus-like claws on their feet.
    • The reason why the Pachycephalosaurus attack Cera could be either they were defending their territory or toying with her.


  • Audio/visual unsynchronized: Littlefoot's lips don't move when he says "Cera, you came back!" while trying to push the boulder onto the Sharptooth.
  • Continuity: The scene in which the baby peteionsauruses fight over the cherry uses two backgrounds, one for the vertical pan, and another for the horizontal. The two backgrounds do not match exactly; peteinosaurus, the sky changes color, and a knothole in the bottom of the screen disappears and then reappears.
  • Continuity: In the scene in which Ducky helps Spike out of his egg, Spike is portrayed as being about two or three times her size. When he emerges from his nest and devours it, he becomes about five or six times her size, and stays in this proportion for the remainder of the film.
  • Continuity: When Littlefoot and the gang settle to sleep on the Sharptooth footprint, and Cera joins them, she lies next to Littlefoot, who in turn is next to Spike. In the next shot, Cera is in-between Spike and Littlefoot. (although cut scenes have shown an in between part where they move positions slightly)
  • Continuity: When Littlefoot and the gang run away upon waking to find that the Sharptooth is close at hand, Petrie is on top of Littlefoot's head. After the gang run into the crevice, Littlefoot is shown without Petrie on his head. When Littlefoot enters the crevice, Petrie is back on his head, but when the Sharptooth breaks the crevice Petrie is not seen rolling down the hill with the gang. After the Sharptooth is seen with his muzzle stuck in the now enlarged crevice, Petrie reappears but in the next shot, both Petrie and Ducky have disappeared.
  • Continuity: Littlefoot, Cera and Spike's eye colors frequently change throughout various scenes during the movie, and almost as suddenly return to normal.
  • Continuity: Littlefoot's treestar is much smaller when he retrieves it after his mother's death, than it was when she gave it to him.
  • Continuity: After the death of Sharptooth, Littlefoot is seen talking to his mother's spirit, saying he'll 'never find the Great Valley'. In the background, the rock that was pushed onto Sharptooth can be seen still sitting on its ledge. This is because of the film's ending being changed while the animation was retained.

Character Debuts[]

  • Recurring characters:
    • Littlefoot
    • Cera
    • Ducky
    • Petrie
    • Spike
    • Grandma and Grandpa Longneck
    • Daddy Topps
    • Mama Swimmer
    • Ducky's Siblings
    • Papa Swimmer
    • Petrie's Mother
    • Petrie's Siblings
  • One-off characters
    • Cera's Mother
    • Cera's Siblings
    • Rooter
    • The original Sharptooth
    • Littlefoot's Mother (deceased; is mentioned in later films and appears in a flashback in The Great Longneck Migration it should be noted that in some scenes in the later films there is a longneck that usually appears alongside Grandma and Grandpa Longneck.)

Memorable Quotes[]


  • (Arriving in the Great Valley) We did it. We did it together.
  • (After fighting with Cera) Go on! Go the wrong way! We never wanted you with us anyway!
  • (The others have collapsed from exhaustion) Oh, you can't quit now. What if the Great Valley's just over the top of these rocks?
  • (Last original lines) Now we'll always be together. (Note: This line was removed from the entire film, although it was used in the Pizza Hut commercial advertising the Land Before Time handpuppets.[37])


  • (After Littlefoot insists that Sharptooth is dead) My father told me that flatheads had very small brains.
  • (Littlefoot offers to share some of the leaves he and the others have obtained, with Cera) I can find my own green food! (Cera struggles to knock the leaves off of a tree. Littlefoot drops some from the rest of the group's stash, while making it look as though Cera knocked them down herself) 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 Sharptooth... I hope he doesn't eat any of you!
  • (Describing a fabricated version of her underground encounter with Sharptooth, to the others) I could see his one, big, ugly eye looking for me.


  • (Repeated line) Yep yep yep.
  • (Trying to coax Spike out of his egg) You should come out. You should. You are late. Yes, you are. Yep yep yep.
  • (Helping Spike to hatch from his egg) You are a spiketail...so we will call you Spike!
  • (Petrie rejects the idea of trying to fly up to grab leaves from a tree) Petrie, do not feel sad. It is alright. Many things cannot fly. Rocks, trees, sticks, Spike...
  • (to Petrie) Up Petrie! Higher! Higher like a flyer!
  • Spike, do not stop! We must stay together!


  • (Perched on Littlefoot's head) You've got a nice flat head, flathead.
  • (As Littlefoot, Ducky and Spike come to save him from the tar pit) Flathead! Ducky! Spike! Oh, Petrie is so happy!
  • (Trying to smell for green food) I smell, I smell, I smell... Hmm. Ducky.

Littlefoot's Mother[]

  • (Last words) Littlefoot, let your heart guide you. It whispers so listen closely.
  • (Littlefoot questions how she knows the Great Valley exists, if she's never been there) Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart.

Daddy Topps[]

  • (Stopping Cera and Littlefoot in their game) Come, Cera, Threehorns never play with Longnecks.


  • (Consoling Littlefoot over his mother's recent death) The Great Circle of Life has begun, but, you see, not all of us arrive together at the end.


  • One herd had only a single baby - the last hope for the future. And they called him...Littlefoot.
  • All that remained of his herd was his mother, grandmother and grandfather. He knew them by sight, by scent, and by their love. He knew they would be together, always.
  • At first, Littlefoot could only think about his mother. He hardly noticed his 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 longneck, a threehorn, a bigmouth, 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.
  • Cera was still too proud to admit that she'd gone the wrong way. [Cera cries]
  • 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.
  • And Littlefoot found his grandmother and grandfather at last. The same loving faces he 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 ancestor's journey to the valley long ago.



Concept art[]


  1. The Land Before Time DVD
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 The Animated Films of Don Bluth
  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. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Animated Movie Guide by Jerry Beck. Published 2005, Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1556525915 Page 138.
  5. Animated Films: Virgin Film; page 233. By James Clarke. Published by Virgin, 2004. Original from the University of Michigan. ISBN 0753508044 / ISBN 9780753508046 Retrieved on August 31st, 2008.
  6. www.boxofficmojo.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  7. Template:Cite web
  8. Janet Maslin's review on The Land Before Time movies.nytimes.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  9. Wendy Miller's review of The Land Before Time, on the Mohave Daily Miner. November 29th, 1988. [1] Retrieved on October 8th, 2008.
  10. The Motion Picture Guide: 1989 Annual; Jenny Mueller (Editor), Jeffrey H. Wallenfeldt (Senior Editor), Jennifer Howe, Michaela Tuohy (Associate Editors), William Leahy (Editorial Director). 1989, Cinebooks, Inc. Evanston, Illinois ISBN 0-933997-20-5 Pages 185-186. Retrieved on July 25th, 2009.
  11. Steve Rhode's review on The Land Before Time www.imdb.com - review 4961 Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  12. Hal Hinson's review on The Land Before Time (November 18th, 1988) www.washingtonpost.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  13. Geoff Andrew's review on The Land Before Time www.timeout.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  14. Sci-fi Movie Page's review on The Land Before Time www.scifimoviepage.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  15. Pages 131-132, Time Capsule: Reviews of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films and TV Shows from 1987-1991, by J. P. Harris. Published by iUniverse, 2002. ISBN 0595213367/ISBN 9780595213368
  16. Page 115, Disney, Pixar, and the Hidden Messages of Children's Films, by M. Keith Booker. Published by ABC-CLIO, 2010. ISBN 0313376727/ISBN 9780313376726
  17. Mark R. Leeper's review on The Land Before Time www.imdb.com - review 0447 Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  18. Roger Ebert's review on The Land Before Time (November 18th, 1988) rogerebert.suntimes.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  19. Children's Films: History, Ideology, Pedagogy, Theory by Ian Wojcik-Andrews. Published 2000, Routledge. ISBN 081533074X Page 185.
  20. Rotten Tomatoes.com's synopsis of The Land Before Time www.rottentomatoes.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  21. The Land Before Time (1988) at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on August 31st, 2009.
  22. Young Artist Awards Ceremony of 1989, page at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on December 16th, 2008.
  23. Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA, ceremony of 1990, page at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on December 16th, 2008.
  24. A Pizza Hut commercial for Land before Time handpuppets, at www.youtube.com. Retrieved on February 7th, 2009.
  25. Amazon.com page for original The Land Before Time soundtrack disk
  26. www.homevideo.universalstudios.com Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  27. http://www.amazon.com/Land-Before-Time-Helen-Shaver/dp/B0126M38K8/ref=sr_1_8?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1437755237&sr=1-8
  28. The Land Before Time Blu-ray
  29. The 233rd issue of the webcomic xkcd.
  30. New York Time's Trailer's for We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story movies.nytimes.com - We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story/Trailers Retrieved on April 19th, 2008.
  31. Test-Prep Your IQ with the Essentials of Film By David Alan Herzog, Arco. Page 111. Published 2003, Peterson's. ISBN 0768911907 Retrieved on July 24th, 2008.
  32. Page 68, The Good Book for Great Times, by Connor Pritchard and Dominic Russo. Published by Adams Media, 2010. ISBN 1440505950/ISBN 9781440505959 [2]
  33. Running on Empty: 14 Movie Franchises We Think Should Stop". Entertainment Weekly, By Kate Ward, (May 11, 2009). Retrieved on May 26th, 2009.
  34. Category Neutrality: A Type-Logical Investigation By Neal Whitman. Edition: illustrated. Published by Routledge, 2005. (ISBN 0415970946/ISBN 9780415970945). Page 150. Retrieved on May 29th, 2009. [3]
  35. In a Brother's Eyes, By Aiken A. Brown. Published by iUniverse, 2005. (ISBN 0595791980/ISBN 9780595791989). Pages 194-195. Retrieved on May 29th, 2009. [4]
  36. Jurassic Classics: A Collection of Saurian Essays and Mesozoic Musings by Donald F. Glut, Edition: illustrated. Published by McFarland, 2001. (ISBN 0786409614/ISBN 9780786409617) Pages 256-257. Retrieved on May 29th, 2009. [5]
  37. 80's Pizza Hut commercial, advertising The Land Before Time handpuppets, at www.youtube.com. Retrieved on February 7th, 2009.

External links[]

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