The Land Before Time

The Land Before Time

Synopsis of Movie

“That's OK, Petrie, lots of things can't fly: Rocks, trees, sticks, Spike…”

Think “Jurassic Bambi.” By 1988, former Disney animator Don Bluth had carved his own niche in the field of animated features with The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail. His follow-up to the latter film was a story of cross-cultural tolerance and the circle of life, set in a prehistoric world of dinosaurs and environmental upheaval.

Baby brontosaurus Littlefoot is the last of his line, cared for by a loving mother and grandparents. With the rapid changing of the environment, food is scarce, and the dinos decide to make the trek toward the Great Valley, legendary for its abundant plant life. Other species are making the journey, too, and Littlefoot attempts to befriend a sassy young Triceratops named Cera. But Daddy Topps discourages the friendship by reminding his daughter, “Three horns never play with long necks.”

Danger rears its sharp-toothed head as a carnivorous Tyrannosaurus Rex attacks Littlefoot’s family. The long neck’s mother fights off the beast, but is mortally wounded in the battle. Adding to the tragedy, a great earthquake separates Littlefoot from his grandparents. The lonely brontosaurus again finds Cera, who has also been torn away from her family by the quake. At first cautious, Cera grudgingly agrees to go along with Littlefoot, who thinks he remembers his mother’s directions to the Great Valley.

The two dinos are joined by more lost young companions—a sluggish stegosaurus named Spike, a hyperactive little anatosaurus named Ducky and a flying-impaired pterodactyl named Petrie. The five new friends set out to find the Great Valley, braving many dangers and learning valuable lessons along their pilgrimage.

Released head-to-head against Disney’s Oliver & Company, The Land Before Time was an unqualified hit. Capitalizing on kids’ love affair with all things dino, the movie created a whole new franchise, with five direct-to-video sequels produced from 1994 to 1998. Bluth went on to continued success with films like All Dogs Go To Heaven and Anastasia, proving that the feature animation market was big enough for multiple players.

Movie Release History

1988 - The Land Before Time

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

MCA-Universal, Amblin Ent., Lucasfilm


Littlefoot Gabriel Damon
Cera Candace Hutson
Ducky Judith Barsi
Petrie Will Ryan
Grandfather Bill Erwin
Littlefoot's Mother Helen Shaver
Narrator Pat Hingle
Rooter Pat Hingle
Daddy Topps Burke Byrnes

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