The Land Before Time (lost deleted scenes of animated movie; 1988)
|The theatrical poster.|
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. Other important scenes, such as Spike's introduction and the ending, were also cut or heavily edited for various reasons.
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 portions in the score that end abruptly or are missing, similar to several scenes from The Black Cauldron.
The First Edit (Pre-Scoring)
- The scene where Cera and Littlefoot are running from Sharptooth in the swamp was heavily re-edited and cut down. As part of the storyboard were leaked, a more complete version can be easily reconstructed. Originally, when Sharptooth showed up, the kids tried to run away, but they slipped in the mud, where he tries to stomp on them. They then run under a 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 they were in the bushes, the scene was re-edited even more. It was meant to be ordered with Sharptooth getting hit in the face with vines when Littlefoot gets unstuck, followed by 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 getting lunged at by Sharptooth. She then jumps over a branch and Littlefoot before they run away, and finally cutting to one more 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 is technically 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 significantly. Originally, Cera and Littlefoot fought about keeping him, and Ducky figured out how to get him to follow with cherries; in the final version, the narrator merely references this scenario. It seems to have been cut early on, since it's hard to pinpoint how it was cut. After Spike is found, Cera may have left the group 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 likely came back when Littlefoot and Spike were calling the others. An additional cut scene with the group hugging may have fit in around here as well.
- Sharptooth's death was a nightmare to re-edit, 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 also had the hugging scene follow it. Littlefoot then 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, but possibly without the group hug.
The Second Edit (Post-Scoring)
- The initial fight with Sharptooth was edited once again. Notably, this scene is only missing about ten seconds of footage (according to comparisons between the soundtrack and movie) 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. It seems nothing major was cut, but there are 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 is also severely cut up due to edits, making it 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 may have been a sequence when this song played, perhaps to do with the group being separated. It may have fit in after they find the rock shaped like a Longneck, where the movie does an awkward fade out and the characters are noticeably frozen in place. This never happens at any other point, making it highly likely that a scene was cut, possibly with Cera leaving the group and storming 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, the group split up. Originally, it would have continued with Littlefoot wandering past the pond they drowned Sharptooth in, asking his mother for help, then discovering the valley (which 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 (his mother may have 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, despite there being no way of her knowing that, giving proof that a scene was likely cut. 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 well.
- A pre-release tape that was distributed by McDonalds allegedly had a deleted scene included in it. However, little actual proof of this has emerged, and based on the few reports of people who have watched it, the tape has no additional footage.
- One rumored scene involved the main characters coming 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 to not judge others based on their species. The scene was never actually animated, however.
- As Grandpa Longneck's voice actor (Bill Erwin) was listed in the credits despite him never talking, there may have been a scene where he spoke in either the beginning or the end, but this is unknown at this point.
- There may be some footage missing from Ducky's introduction since the tree star vanishes and reappears a few scenes later, but this may have been a simple animation mistake.
The uncut version of the film has never shown up in any form of public release, and it is largely believed that the extra footage has been 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.