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Film Studies: The Land Before Time Essay

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Updated: Mar 16th, 2020

People have always wanted to lift the curtain concealing the previous eras and explore the past properly. While the task of historical research is complicated yet possible when analyzing ancient civilizations, with the eras when the human race did not exist yet, the task becomes nearly impossible.

Nevertheless, a range of theories concerning the prehistoric times have been spawned, and several moviemakers have tried representing these ideas. An animated family picture is known as the Land Before Time is, perhaps, the most famous and the most entertaining of them.

The Land Before Time. n. d. Web. 10 April 2014

Picture 1. The Land Before Time. n. d. Web. 10 April 2014. <http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/32100000/The-Land-Before-Time-the-80s-32163649-640-480.jpg>.

Critiquing the movie too harshly for the lack of accuracy concerning the details of the overall portrayal of the era would be unfair – after all, historical accuracy was not the priority in this case. The director did not pursue the goal of geology popularization – instead, he was aiming at capturing the magic of the long-gone era and making the audience gasp in awe.

However, some of the mistakes are far too big to be passed unnoticed. For example, the lead character of the movie, the Littlefoot, is often called a brontosaurus, which seems fine until the species that the rest of the characters belong to are brought up.

While each of them, bears a correct label of Pachycephalosauruses, Triceratopses, etc., the lead character bears the informal name of a cross between an Apatosaurus and a Camarasaurus (Steelman para. 2). A minor ditch in overall perfect representation of the era, it still rubs the people, who are aware of the prehistoric animal’s classification, the wrong way.

The rest of the movie, though, is perfect in terms of ancient history visualization. The dinosaurs look unbelievably realistic – at least, as far as an animated character can – and their habits and looks are represented in a very accurate manner.

The process of changes, which the Earth was undergoing during the Jurassic period, was also portrayed in a very convincing manner. The earthquakes triggered by the continental drift and the split of Pangaea into Laurasia and Gondwana were depicted very graphically; however, the change towards a damper climate was not shown properly, since most of the scenes featured droughty zones.

The Land Before Time: Climbing the Tree. n. d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014

Picture 2. The Land Before Time: Climbing the Tree. n. d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <http://s.mcstatic.com/thumb/7772242/21058949/4/flash_player/0/1/the_land_before_time_1988_climbing_the_tree.jpg?v=4>.

The movie can be considered both entertaining and educational. A child watching the film will not have a wrong idea about the Jurassic period. On the contrary, new information about the ancient world is offered in a very smart and entertaining manner.

Earth’s Geologic History

Picture 3. Earth’s Geologic History

Extinct and current mammals

Picture 4. Extinct and current mammals

Works Cited

Steelman, Ben. “Zoo Parade Littlefoot, the Baby Brontosaurus From “The Land Before Time,” Leads an Animated Procession to the Video Shelves, With “Bambi” and “Roger Rabbit” Close Behind.” The Inquirer 14 September 1989. Web. 10 April 2014. <http://articles.philly.com/1989-09-14/entertainment/26104196_1_milt-kahl-roger-rabbit-don-bluth>.

The Land Before Time. n. d. Web. 10 April 2014. <http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/32100000/The-Land-Before-Time-the-80s-32163649-640-480.jpg>.

The Land Before Time: Climbing the Tree. n. d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. <http://s.mcstatic.com/thumb/7772242/21058949/4/flash_player/0/1/the_land_before_time_1988_climbing_the_tree.jpg?v=4

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