Littlefoot actually left a pair of large shoes to fill.
When you're a kid, most of what you need to see is sucker. The shows and movies focus on bright colors and loud noises for entertainment, but there are some that rise above us and stay with us for generations.
For me this film was The Land Before Time. Not only did it fulfill my desire to hang out with dinosaurs, but it was an adventure film that also carried a lot of weight. For me, and for many millennials, it was the first time we saw the parents of a cartoon character die on screen.
And I think I speak for everyone when I say … it ruined me.
The studio had almost cut the scene, but the film's director, Don Bluth, had help saving it.
He said to Vulture, "I remember getting to that moment in The Land Before Time and everyone was like, 'Oh, this is too hard – no, no, we don't want kids to see this. "It was Steven Spielberg who said," Wait a minute. "We are all born, we all live to a certain age and then we all go. And one day we come back. Everyone has to go through the moment called the great cycle of life. & # 39; "
Obviously, this idea changed the animation of the 90s. Mufasa was killed on the screen and we even branded that circle of life. Bluth not only made animation serious again, but also made the idea of the consequences for the characters' actions marketable.
The rest of the movie is a fun romp through the prehistoric lands as dinosaurs make friends and try to wander to a safe place. And it was considered another influential masterpiece by Bluth, along with The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven, and Anastasia. He left Disney believing the movies had gotten too soft and the animation too boring. He wanted to do something different.
He wanted to represent the danger.
"There is a danger in our whole life, whether it is a danger to your health or a danger when you drive a car or anything else – there is always a danger," says Bluth. "Your cleverness and how you deal with this danger play a really important role in every one of our lives."
We saw this danger in Littefoot's mother, but when you look at all of his work we always understand that the consequences are life and death.
American Tail is about fleeing the Holocaust, All Dogs go to Heaven is about dealing with mortality, and the twists and turns in NIMH show that the mice are always trying to survive.
Bluth wrote and staged this trail because of Bambi and the way he felt as a kid.
"I saw it in a theater next to my own mother," he says. "That scene prepared me for the moment this would happen to my mother. She wouldn't get shot by a hunter, but she would go. And when we did The land before our timeWe knew the mother would and had to leave for Littlefoot to grow up. Mothers have to leave their children or they will not grow up. It's a human thing. "
One of the lessons at his own Don Bluth University He puts a lot of emphasis on teaching the new generation of animators is not afraid to reflect on the human experience … even the sad, dark, or uncomfortable parts. He says, "What we do in the animation world is rendering symbols that reflect real life. When you show the dark moments, the triumphant moments have more power. And if animators don't understand that, I don't." I think they animate. What they do is draw. "
This type of teaching is so important in storytelling. You ground the characters, make them accessible to the audience, and teach them life lessons.
I know these Bluth films were some of my favorites growing up and that the classes helped me shape myself for who I am. I can also see how they influenced Pixar and Disney to improve their game and take the use of their stories seriously.
What's your favorite Bluth film? Let me know what you think in the comments.