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The Land Before Time (1988) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (3) | Spoilers (2)
Judith Barsi, who did the voice for Ducky, was murdered by her father four months before the film's release. Judith was only ten years old. Her headstone includes her famous line in this film, "Yep! Yep! Yep!"
It was George Lucas's idea to make Cera a female triceratops.
This remains the only Land Before Time film not to be a musical.
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas originally wanted the film to have no dialog, like the Rite of Spring sequence in Fantasia (1940). But to make the film appealing to children, they abandoned this idea, and got actors and actresses to do the voices.
The film's theme song, "If We Hold on Together", was sung by Diana Ross and became a huge hit in Japan. It did so well there that it became a karaoke standard.
Pizza Hut once ran a promotion involving the characters. If you spent a certain amount on pizza, you could receive a free hand-puppet of one of the characters. When the film was first released on video, there was also a commercial for Pizza Hut which played before the movie started.
The role of Ducky was Judith Barsi's favorite of her own film roles.
Throughout production, the film underwent a severe cutting and editing of footage. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas thought that some scenes in the movie would appear too dark and intense for young children. Spielberg told Don Bluth while looking at the scenes from 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." About 19 scenes comprising of 10 minutes of footage, mostly pertaining to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the five characters in mild peril or distress was cut or trimmed. Bluth was unhappy with the cuts, and fought to keep the footage, but felt like he had to do so, making this film only 69 minutes, one of his shortest. He claims to have a personal copy of the film reel with the whole thing, though no word on whether or not it will ever see the light of day.
Different dinosaur species reflected in the five main characters: Littlefoot is an Apatosaurus; Cera is a Triceratops; Spike is a a Stegosaurus; Petrie is a Pteranodon; and Ducky is Parasaurolophus.
The film's narrator also performed the voice for Rooter. This may have been to underscore the fact that both characters were very wise and insightful.
Outside the Indiana Jones franchise, this is the only film to be co-produced by both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
29 species of animals were featured in this film. 5 of them were already extinct by the time the movie was set.
Old Rooter didn't appear in the original script, but was added to soften the blow of the death of Littlefoot's mother.
It was the highest grossing animated film of all time until The Little Mermaid (1989).
An astounding 13 sequels have been made, as well as eight games, two sing-a-long videos, and a TV series.
CASTLE THUNDER: The Haunted Mansion thunderclap is heard right at the beginning of the first storm, when it frightens Baby Cera.
During development, Cera started out as a male triceratops called 'Bambo'.
In his book "The Art Of Animation," Don Bluth admitted that the film's massive financial success can partially be attributed to the 19-minute cut-out.
Originally planned for release in fall, 1987. Production was delayed by a year due to the relocation of Sullivan Bluth Studios to Dublin, Ireland.
The character of Spike was inspired by Don Bluth's pet Chow Chow, Cubby.
The scene where Sharptooth lands on the back of Littlefoot's mother was originally fully visible, but it was changed to shadow.
Littlefoot was originally going to be called 'Thunderfoot', but a triceratops from a children's book already had that name.
The original film trailer has a deleted bit from the final scene with Littlefoot saying "now we'll always be together!".
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The movie refers to animals and/or nature in charming and/or poetic names. These include "green food" for leaves, "The Bright Circle" for the sun, "The Mountains that Burn" for volcanoes, "sharp-tooth" for tyrannosaurs, "tree stars" for particularly beautiful leaves, "flyer" for pterodactyls, "long necks" for brontosauruses, "three-horns" for triceratops, "spike tail" for stegosauri, "The Great Earth Shake" for earthquake, "hopper" for frogs, "big mouth" for whichever species Ducky was, "The Great Valley" for a beautiful valley, and "The Great Circle of life" for life itself.
During production of An American Tail (1986), talk began of the next feature with Steven Spielberg. He wanted to do a film similar to Bambi (1942), but only with dinosaurs.
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While he by no means dislikes the film, Don Bluth credits it with kickstarting his weaker output, as it was his first major exposure to studio interference.
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Studies done long after the film's release revealed that ceratopsian dinosaurs may have been opportunistic omnivores. In other words, Triceratops like Cera may well have been willing to eat meat in real life as well as plants.
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Reportedly the full, uncut version has aired in several foreign countries.
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An early working title for the film was The Land Before Time Began.
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There is also a deleted scene where the group finds an oasis, but the two groups of dinosaurs already there get discriminatory and say that only Ducky can drink. These elements still appear in the children's book released with the film.
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The instrumental "If We Hold On Together" score was re-used in Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and as the theme tune for a Japanese TV show.
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Over 600 background paintings were made for the film. Most of these depicted beautiful but barren wastelands, which presented a real challenge for the creative team. As one studio press release put it, "The artists had to create a believable environment in which there was almost no foliage." Whenever possible, Don Bluth's illustrators emphasized vibrant colors. This kept their backdrops from looking too drab or monotonous-despite the desolate setting.
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In 1997, there were talks of adapting the film into a stage musical by the late theatrical producer Irving Welzer. This idea never came to fruition.
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The film's second half was not as Don Bluth originally intended. In the original version, Littlefoot finds the Great Valley after he goes off alone and the others go with Cera. He realizes that he has to go find the others because they won't find it on their own, and goes back after them, finding them in the volcano. The Sharptooth scene then happens and he leads them to the valley. This can be detected in the final film. In the scene where Littlefoot is telling his mother he'll never find the Great Valley because it's too hard, the rock they pushed onto Sharptooth is still there in the foreground; and the scene where he looks over the Great Valley shows him standing alone and is closely followed by a shot of Littlefoot and the others sliding to a stop with Petrie perched on his head.
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Will Ryan (Petrie) was in Don Bluth's previous film An American Tail (1986) as Digit.
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This is the only Don Bluth film of the 80's to not feature a character voiced by Dom DeLuise, an actor who was a regular in a lot of Bluth's films. Though ironically, Dom was featured in Disney's "Oliver & Company", which was released the same year as "The Land Before Time".
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The production was preceded by extensive research, wherein researchers visited natural history museums in New York and Los Angeles and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
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One of the three Don Bluth films to not be a musical. The other two being "The Secret of NIMH" and "Titan A.E."
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The scene where Sharptooth is pushed under by the big rock had a scene where Sharptooth was seen looking up to the water, but it was deemed too scary.
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This is the only Don Bluth film released in the 1980s to not feature Dom DeLuise.
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None of the cast members appear in every movie. After the first most of them were replaced, and Frank Welker came close, but was absent from The Land Before Time XI.
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1st installment in the land before time series.
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Director Trademark 

Don Bluth: [children] Each of the dinosaur children are either orphaned or separated from their parents.
Don Bluth: [emigrating protagonist] Littlefoot, along with all the other dinosaurs, is forced to travel to the great valley after an earthquake.
Don Bluth: [object] Littlefoot has a tree star which he carries with him.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Bill Erwin is credited as voicing Grandpa Longneck, despite the character not speaking in the film.
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Whether he knows it or not, Littlefoot actually avenges the death of his mother by defeating the Sharptooth at the end of the film.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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