The Land Before Time cut content (lost scenes; 1980s)
Don Bluth's 1988 animated feature film The Land Before Time was originally to have a running length of 79 minutes, but was cut down to 69 minutes, due to the removal of various scenes that were deemed either too frightening or too difficult for children to understand (plus a few other minor cuts). Against Bluth's wishes, a grand total of 19 scenes were cut from the film before release, namely scenes in which potentially overwhelming images from the fight with Sharptooth (the Tyrannosaurus rex) were shown, including a scene of Sharptooth landing on Littlefoot's mother (which was altered to show the event only in shadow). The theory that the early release tape contained some cut footage seems to have been proven false.
In addition to these scenes, the ending was also altered. Originally, Littlefoot was to find the Great Valley on his own after parting with his friends, before returning to his friends and helping them defeat Sharptooth, later entering the Valley with his reunited group. Other scenes cut from the film included one in which Ducky is seen taunting Sharptooth by making faces at him, and one that shows the inclusion of Spike into the gang and the decision to lead him using berries. The rumored scene in which the main characters come upon an oasis inhabited by "crown-heads" (Pachycephalosaurus) and "gray-noses" (Saurolophus), who refuse to share food and water with one another, giving Cera an epiphany on not judging others based on their species was rumored to be part of the film, but was never actually animated.
The original cut of The Land Before Time has never shown up in any form of public release, and it is largely believed that the extra footage has been either lost or destroyed. Despite this, stills from some of the deleted scenes have shown up in the past, some, interestingly enough, in the movie's counterpart storybooks Friends in Need, The Search for the Great Valley, and The Land Before Time: The Illustrated Story. Small snippets from some of the deleted scenes can also be found in pieces of promotional material for the movie that came out before its release. It is rumored that an unedited copy of the film was accidentally sent to a Finnish broadcasting company, which they then subsequently aired, although this claim has never been verified.
The Two Main Cuts
When the movie was first screened, it seems it wasn't yet scored, since there are a number of scenes that simply don't fit anymore. Other scenes were removed after it was scored, which is why there are chunks in the music that are missing, like in The Black Cauldron.
The First Edit
-The scene where Cera and Littlefoot are running from Sharptooth in the swamp was heavily reedited and cut down. As part of the storyboard was recently leaked, the whole, early version can be easily reconstructed. Originally, when Sharptooth showed up, the kids tried to run away, slipped in the mud, and he tries to stomp on them. They then run under the tree and try to climb into the hollow top, but he sticks his head down into the tree and knocks them out; he then gets stuck (you can still see the tree shaking in the final film) and they have a chance to run into the thorn bushes. When in the bushes, the scene was re-edited. It was meant to be ordered with Sharptooth getting hit in the face with vines when Littlefoot gets unstuck, then the scene where he pins them under the branch trying to sniff them out, then more scenes of them running, Cera running down one corridor and then getting lunged at by Sharptooth. She then jumps over a branch and Littlefoot before they run away, and then it cuts to another scene with Sharptooth lunging through the branches, this time at Littlefoot.
-The Old Rooter scene was actually added to the movie, since the death of the mother was deemed too traumatic (even though her death technically is Littlefoot's fault); it should just fade or cut to the fliers playing with the cherries. This addition prevented the entire death scene from being cut out.
-One of the best known cut scenes, the discovery of Spike was cut down a lot. Originally, Cera and Littlefoot fought about keeping him, and Ducky figured out how to get him to follow with cherries: in the final, the narrator seems to reference this scene slightly. It seems to have been cut early on, since it's hard to pinpoint how it was cut. After Spike is found, it seems Cera left for a while, since she vanishes right before they find the green food. She's very obviously not there in any scene until she starts claiming she found the food and calling it the Great Valley; she probably came back when Littlefoot and Spike were calling the others. It seems that the cut scene with the group hugging may have fit in here, or a bit later on.
-Sharptooth's death was a nightmare to reedit, but it seems the scene went on longer, with Ducky having to lure him into the water again. The sinking scene was longer, and there was a scene with the group reuniting with Petrie when he escaped, which could have had the hugging scene follow it, since it could also fit in there. Then Littlefoot guided them to the Valley, carrying Petrie on his head. This reused animation from earlier, and it's possible the recut may have been done to spare audiences another segment of repeated animation in this film. The movie then continued on as normal.
The Second Edit (after the soundtrack was created)
-The fight with Sharptooth. Notably, this scene is only missing about 10 seconds of footage (according to soundtrack official and final comparisons) right before the earthquake begins. This explains the sudden appearance of the mother's neck wound, and may explain why people claimed that the fight moved to the swamp at some point.
-The greenfood scene is known to be cut, and this was probably just to speed up the pacing a bit. It seems nothing major was cut, but there is some slight continuity problems involving Cera: She backs up to ram the tree again for food, and then is walking away, teasing the group. The music seems to be severely cut up, since it's impossible to line up anymore.
-In the soundtrack, "If We Hold on Together" is listed after the "Whispering Winds" track, and before "Foraging for Food" (which was ultimately cut down), and the credits are separate. In fact, the lyrics suggest there could have been a sequence when this song played, perhaps to do with the group separated. It may have fit in after they find the rock shaped like a Longneck, where the movie does an awkward fade out, where the characters noticeably freeze in place. This never happens at another point, and it's obvious something was cut. Probably Cera being a jerk about finding the rock first or something. There's potential Cera left the group and stormed off, only for them to be reunited again shortly after, which could explain why tensions were so high in the following scenes.
-What is now the ending of the film happened considerably earlier, but piecing it together is hard. When they reached the fire mountain, they split up. Originally, it would have continued with Littlefoot wandering past the pond they drown Sharptooth in, asking his mother for help, then discovering the valley (this last bit is still used in the movie). There was a scene with him playing in the waterfalls, then, in an unknown scene, he ends up finding the others at the river of fire (potentially his mother told him to bring them, but nothing is known of this moment). It is noticeable that they eventually ended up on the right path from there, and may have been going the right way. Through a mistake in the film, the narrator says that Cera is too proud to admit she went the wrong way: how did she know she was going the wrong way? Obviously they cut out something with Littlefoot revealing he had found the Great Valley, but messed up cutting the narration out. It's also notable that it looks like it's raining outside when she storms off, not a waterfall, so there might be a large amount of footage missing from that point on.
-As the Grandfather's voice actor was listed in the credits, there was probably a scene where he spoke in either the beginning or the end, but this is unknown at this point.
-There seems to be some footage missing from Ducky's introduction, since there's a huge continuity gap (the tree star vanishes and reappears a few scenes later), but this may have been an animation mistake.
- Gabriel Damon as Littlefoot
- Candace Hutson as Cera
- Judith Barsi as Ducky
- Will Ryan as Petrie
- Joe Ranft as Spike
- Bill Erwin as Grandpa Longneck
- Burke Byrnes as Topsy
- Helen Shaver as Littlefoot's Mother
- Pat Hingle as Narrator and Rooter
- Frank Welker as Sharptooth and Domeheads