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Movie Review

The Land Before Time

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
8 to Adult
1 hr. 9 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 18, 1988
Relevant Issues
Cover art for “The Land Before Time”
The Great Dinosaur Mystery On-line
Visit our dinosaur-size Web site where you’ll discover a mountain of knowledge and amazing discoveries. How do dinosaurs fit into the Bible? You’ll find the answer to this and many more of your questions. Play games, browse and learn. Includes many helps for teachers and parents.

DINOSAUR ORIGIN—Where did the dinosaurs come from? Answer

Are dinosaurs mentioned in the BIBLE? Answer

WHY did God create dinosaurs? Answer

LIVING WITH DINOSAURS—What would it have been like to live with dinosaurs? Answer

Copyrighted illustration, Films for ChristEXTINCTION—Why did dinosaurs become extinct? Answer

NOAH’S ARK—Did Noah take dinosaurs on the Ark? Answer

DINOSAURS AFTER THE FLOOD—Following the Flood, what happened to dinosaurs? Answer

Watch the video of “The Great Dinosaur Mystery”

Creation SuperLibrary

Read The Great Alaskan Dinosaur Adventure

Browse our extensive Creation online catalog

Featuring: Judith Barsi … Ducky (voice)
Pat Hingle … Narrator/Rooter (voice)
Gabriel Damon … Littlefoot (voice)
Helen Shaver … Littlefoot’s Mother (voice)
Bill Erwin … Grandfather (voice)
Burke Byrnes … Daddy Topps (voice)
Candace Hutson … Cera (voice)
Will Ryan … Petrie (voice)
Director: Don Bluth
Producer: Universal Pictures
Sullivan Bluth Studios
U-Drive Productions
Amblin Entertainment
Don Bluth … producer
Gary Goldman … producer
Kathleen Kennedy … co-executive producer
George Lucas … executive producer
Frank Marshall … co-executive producer
Deborah Jelin Newmyer … associate producer
John Pomeroy … producer
Steven Spielberg … executive producer
Distributor: Universal

This fantasy, about a group of orphaned dinosaur hatchlings journeying to a place where they can still find the food that’s become very scarce elsewhere, is loaded with evolutionist and long-age geological assumptions. It also has a touch of spiritism, with the baby dinosaurs’ leader being guided by the spirit of his dead mother. And it takes a stab at Political Correctness, with a newfound interspecies cooperation representing the breakdown of “racist” attitudes. For a kids’ cartoon, that’s a pretty heavy rap.

The narrator tells us that the story takes place before the time of humans and of many other mammals, both extant and extinct. The climate is changing, and the plant-eaters must move to the West in search of food. There are earthquakes and volcanoes. After a quake, Littlefoot (a brontosaur) and his mother end up on one side of a fissure and his grandparents on the other. Cera (a triceratops) is separated from her parents by the same fissure. Then Littlefoot’s mother is killed by a T-Rex. Cera (who had been taught by her parents that “three-horns don’t mix with long-necks”) tentatively follows Littlefoot’s lead in journeying to the Great Valley. Along the way, they’re joined by Ducky (a duckbill), Petrie (a pterodactyl) and Spike (a stegosaur). The fellow travelers must learn to help each other and pool their skills together in order to survive dangers such as tar pits and “sharptooth” attacks. The childlike voices and slapstick humor take some of the sting out of the harsh storyline.

Content: The violence (including several T-Rex attacks) is inappropriate for very young children. Littlefoot’s mother dies on-screen (the “Mother, where are you?” sequence is pulled straight from “Bambi”), but she promises that she’ll always be with him. Later, he hears her voice guiding him and sometimes sees her form in the clouds.

Science: There’s plenty of information on this Christian Answers Network on the truth about Creationist and young-Earth issues. See the Creation SuperLibrary for starters. One other interesting point: there’s really no such animal as brontosaurus. It was created from certain fossil finds (always headless), and someone’s imagination gave it a blunt snout. Later, it was decided that those fossils were the same as apatosaurus (which had a pointed snout), and “brontosaurus” was officially wiped off the books (but many “unofficial” books and movies still use it, since it holds such an important place in the popular imagination). Each year, several dinosaur species are quietly obsoleted. Some, like brontosaurus, are merged with other species; but there are other reasons too. Recently, one species was erased when it was determined that its “fossil bones” were really petrified wood.

“Land Before Time” has been followed by a long string of direct-to-video sequels, each titled “Land Before Time” followed by a Roman numeral and a subtitle, plus two singalong videos.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
This was one of my favorite movies when I was about eight or nine. Among its lessons are that it’s okay to be friends with people who are different, and also to stick together and not give up. However, it does promote evolution, and there are some violent and dramatic scenes that are probably not suitable for kids under six. If you’re a creationist, I think it’s okay to let your kids watch it, just explain to them that evolution isn’t real. On a lighter note, the characters are memorable and very cute, especially the duck-bill named Ducky.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Melissa E., age 19
Comments from young people
Positive—“The Land Before Time” movie(s) were the ones that I grew up with. I re-watched this film and loved it all over again! I love the lessons and the journey the dinosaurs take! I couldn’t find any evolution or any objectionable content in here, but I know it is hiding somewhere in this film. But any of the hiding offensive content can be ignored, because of the great 2D animation, dinosaurs, the journey, etc. I really loved this film—a lot!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andre, age 15 (Canada)