Thursday, August 12, 2010

The big damn "Land Before Time" nostalgia post!

First off, this one's going to be a little picture heavy. And you may want to read this old post before we begin, as many of it's points still stand.

Also, just because this showed up again:

I had to see what it was all about. Clicking that link leads to a short film that shows kids how to use a DVD remote and eventually ends with this image:


In the last post I mentioned two important things that I didn't have the space to expand on: That "The Land Before Time" was the first movie I ever became a hopeless fangirl for and that it was The Movie That Changed My Life.

Completely Sealed Young Trishie's Fate, more like it. "The Land Before Time" is the one movie, more than any other, that made me want to be an animator. Seriously. Once I saw this, there was no other imaginable career path. I remember reading some little blurb about the Sullivan/Bluth studio as a little kid and making my one and only ever Life's Plan to get over there and work for them when I grew up. There's a small, but very (
VERY) vocal part of me that still wants to work there.

(And Trish lets out the deepest, most heart-rending sigh you could ever imagine...)

Now that that serious bummer is out of the way (for YOU; I have to
live with it) let me share some of the evidence and memories of my fandom. Gotta start out with another serious bummer: Try to imagine what all the cool kids in my middle school were writing about when they did their inevitable "My Favorite Movie" essays. Now imagine how much fun it was to run to the defense of some seventy-minute long dinosaur cartoon. Yeah.

I'll start with these weird wall decorations that I chanced to find ages and ages ago in a long-extinct hardware store. For some reason bare walls were abhorrent to the mind of an 80's kid, and these oversize stickers were there to please. Sadly, they did not come off in one piece. Sorry for the blurryness in some of these.

I saved Petrie for last because of a weird little phenomenon I've noticed over the years: no two tie-in products agree what color scheme he is. (I suggest you take my word for it instead of doing a Google Image search. "Petrie" turns up some weird sh*t.) Officially, he's the cruddy orange that seemed to be the default colors for Pterosaurs in the 80's, but in the above wall art and the Pizza Hut party supplies and the hand puppets below, he's practically a Sparkledactyl.

So about those damn hand puppets:

I have yet to meet a person of around my age who never owned one of these little monstrosities. Apparently, they were only a buck at the time so who could resist?

There was a glaring omission from the "Land Before Time" DVD I watched last night and it ain't the missing footage (well, OK, that too). Comment below if you have this stupid commercial well drilled into the tooth of your memory:

I don't recall ever having a Pizza Hut birthday party during this time period, but boy did we go there a lot. Our local Pizza Hut hung stuffed animals of the main cast from the ceiling and each time we ate there, I seethed with envy. 

You see, those toys were J.C. Penny exclusives and there wasn’t a J.C. Penny store for miles. Whose genius marketing idea was that? I think there was a coloring contest where Pizza Hut would award one of the stuffed toys as a prize. I very definitely remember getting a picture of Littlefoot to color in. Littlefoot, just to remind you, is brown. The picture came with a sealed packet of crayons: red, yellow, blue, and green.

Chain restaurants hate children and want them to be properly disillusioned by the age of ten.

Anyway, if I couldn’t have the stuffed animals, the puppets were a... decent... substitute. (Decent as in off-model, awkwardly designed, and failing utterly at fitting on a human hand.) Honestly, give-away toys are like a giant conspiracy against you when you are about nine or ten and want a complete set. (See also all the trauma caused by McDonalds’ Happy Meals.) But as you can see, eventually I got my complete set. Sharptooth and everyone. Yard sales are awesome. Turns out these aren't so hard to find on eBay and neither are the 1988 "Land Before Time" plushes. (Said plushes really aren't that great looking and not really worth it IMO.)  

Funny coda: I passed by a stuffed animal Littlefoot in Ocean State Job Lot a while ago, and the irony of blithely ignoring something I would have given my eyeteeth for as a little kid did not escape me. 

I guess what I really really longed for was more "Land Before Time". As I said, the film is really short. I would have to wait years and years for my foolish little ten-year-old wish to be fulfilled in pretty much the worst way imaginable (sorry to address the sauropod in the room like that). Ah, but there was something to sate us dinosaur animation geeks (at least until "Jurassic Park" but we had no idea back then.) And I kind of want to slap my younger self for being so desperate for animated dinosaurs that she'd voluntarily watch this thing right here:

  This little slice of shameless cash-grabbing is "Dink the Little Dinosaur". And I call it shameless because even as a kid, I knew this was a blatant rip off the popularity of "Land Before Time". They're not even subtle about it, really. It's kind of hilarious/sad that the basic plots were almost recycled by the "Land Before Time" series.  

The DVD, whatever edition Netflix sent me, wasn't as terrible as I feared. The print looks pretty clean. As usual, there are no decent special features for older fans, though this one did silence all my years of fan speculation:  

Here's the crazy thing: all of the text in the special features is read out loud for you. I can't tell you how annoying that is. 

I wish Universal knew that there was an audience out there for a good anniversary edition of "Land Before Time" and, while we're dreaming, "An American Tail" made with Don Bluth's input. Give us a letterboxed format and a cleaned-up soundtrack. Give us some kind of behind-the-scenes stuff. Hell, really throw us a bone and let us know what the missing "Land Before Time" footage was all about! 

This last thing is a bit of a point of contention for me. First off, I remember having two little paperback books that contained scenes that aren't in the final cut of the movie. One of them is a scene that enforces the "species-ism is bad" theme when the gang meets two different genre of hadrosaur who refuse to share the food and water they're hording with each-other; in a surprising moment of character development, it is Cera who tells them off. The other is far, far more interesting: it shows Littlefoot arriving at the Great Valley by himself, then backtracking to rescue his friends. It's clear where these scenes were rearranged in the final cut. Secondly, in the old Memory Lane message boards (it's very meta, the fact that they could be featured in a modern-day equivalent of Memory Lane), there was a poster who claimed to have a copy of the original storyboards and promised to send us scans of the missing scenes. I am still very bitter that this never happened.

I guess it's clear by now that where most kids in my peer group had "The Little Mermaid", I had "The Land Before Time". I'm sorry if this nostalgia binge was too much for some readers, but this movie means a lot to me. 

Also, I might as well write two long posts on "The Land Before Time", because I'm looking at my Netflix queue, and it's pretty much straight downhill from here. 


"Art of the Day"!  Here are some pop culture dinosaurs. Click for big:

 6.24.10 - ACEOs for Art Evolved's Pop Culture gallery!

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