When this film came out, not only was it a huge hit with critics and audiences, but it spawned a large franchise and became possibly Don Bluth's most well known movie, partially thanks to Steven Spielberg and Universal. When I was a kid, I adored this movie even though it scared me, and watching it now, it still holds up very well. I think that might be because Don Bluth intended this as Bambi with dinosaurs, and in that regard, it did it's job very well.
For starters, the film really packs an emotional punch. When we see the birth of Littlefoot and other dinosaurs merging together, it establishes a sense of warmness that is not too different from Bambi's childhood. Then when the Tyrannosaurus kills Littlefoot's mother, the movie just gets depressing, but it reminds us that even when someone passes on, they'll still be with you and you will always be part of each other. That can stick to anyone, whether you're a kid, adult, or even a teenager.
The actual journey in the film itself is a character driven story, and the characters are likable enough to root for, and we understand their goals and strengths and weaknesses. What makes Littlefoot and Cera notable is that for every nasty remark they may have towards each other, they're still kids, and they don't know any better, but even with every traumatic moment they face, they always keep a positive outlook and stick together through tough times. Same applies to the adorable Ducky, the baby like Spike, and the timid Petrie, as even through tough and sad times, they always push forward and stick to their goal to get back to their family. That's what friends do for each other, and this could be one of the most earnest examples of friendship I've ever seen.
Adding in to that, the animation is spectacular. Don Bluth was always a fantastic animator, and by bringing creatures that died millions of years ago back to life in film, he and his animators captured the look, the feel, the aesthetics, and especially the environments of where dinosaurs lived, and what they were like. The backgrounds are grim but beautiful, the animation on the creatures are accurate beyond word, the effects are artistically vibrant, and the use of light is always a rest bite wen you look at the horrible grittiness from time to time.
Overall, while Bambi may have been more simple albeit dark and depressing, The Land Before Time succeeded in capturing a real sense of emotional clarity that can prove to anyone how friendship can make an importance in someone's life. Along with stunning animation, charming characters and a great lesson about death and acceptance, this is a film that should be presented to all children, if not families. Even if it has its scary moments, they show how scary life can be, but with the sense of optimism, it shows how much rewarding life can be when you obtain such moments of glory, and remember, if we hold on together, I know our dreams will never die. Thank you Bluth, Spielberg, George Lucas, James Horner and Diana Ross.