Upon its release in 1988, The original Land Before Time movie was both lauded and criticized for its simultaneous beauty and darkness. The film’s message is simple: the power of friendship can overcome even the greatest of hardships. But really, did we have to do Littlefoot's mom like that?
As kids, it didn’t seem that deep, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the Land Before Time emotionally scarred an entire generation of kids. With the power to make grown men cry, the unsung tearjerker movie Land Before Time contains a shocking amount amount of social commentary, disturbing circumstances, and deep-reaching questions about the goodness of man.
With a level head and a steadfast belief in a better life, Littlefoot's mother was too good for her lot in this life.
When all of her eggs shattered, she poured every ounce of her love into her sole son, Littlefoot. She believed that the Longneck people deserved to live and eat prosperously in the Great Valley, and she saw this vision through to its gristly conclusion.
Littlefoot’s mother’s untimely end is a major contender for “most unsettling cartoon parent losses”. The other logical front runners, Bambi and Simba, were at least granted the respite of not personally bearing witness to the carnage. However, the children watching these movies saw every gritty detail.
Littlefoot really bears the brunt of the psychic anguish throughout the Land Before Time franchise. He’s the only surviving egg of his litter, he gets rebuked by his ignorant childhood friend, and he grows up starving and desperate.
On top of all of this, Littlefoot has to overcome all these obstacles while carrying the immense survivor’s guilt incurred by watching his mother fall victim to the jaws of the man who wanted to eat him.
Even though Littlefoot loses everything, he still has the capacity to love, to give and forgive, and to grieve.
Even before the enduring trauma of Littlefoot's life began, his family was already living in the age of dinosaur end-times. Struck by famine and drought, his sparse herd of Longneck brethren bore only one son.
Though the first film has a happy ending, the generational baggage may have followed Littlefoot for life. That must have been a tremendous psychological weight for a single child to carry.
In the epic adventure genre, it’s fairly common for a bunch of children to go on a quest unsupervised. Sometimes there were never any adults in the picture, sometimes they were compromised in some way. But here in The Land Before Time, the adults are seen and known. The children really do take off into the night living on a prayer and a dream of Littlefoot’s late mom.
These are troubled kids, at that! At the time of their departure, Littlefoot is freshly traumatized, Cera is incredibly bullheaded, Spike is socially inept, Petrie is a Flyer who couldn’t fly, and Duckie is simply very shrill.