I know I promised to decide on a winner for Christmas, but before I do this, I do have to give a movie its due which I somehow managed to overlook. I am actually not sure how this happened. Between all the nomination lists I (or one of my readers) should have noticed its absence sooner, but I guess even though this movie was a huge success when it hit the theatres, it doesn’t really play in the big league after all. The movie in question is….
A Land Before Time, 1988, Don Bluth, Traditional
Now, I don’t think that it would have made it in the final selection, because it was released in a very strong year for Japanese Animation. And honestly, the very fact that I forgot about this movie despite it being one of my childhood memories shows that it is lacking something. Even though you can’t do an animated movies with dinosaurs without someone saying “this is a little bit like A Land Before Time”. Even though (or perhaps because) it had a number of direct-to-video sequels. And a terrible animated series.
Let’s do this a little bit different this time around. Here is what I don’t like about the movie:
The plot is very simply and the protagonists are mostly defined over one character trait. I also think that the religious undertones are a little bit odd. Not bad, just odd. And then there is the T-Rex, who is oddly interested in what it is barely a mouthful. Wouldn’t it make more sense to follow the bigger group of dinosaurs?
And here is what I like:
While the plot is simple and the characters could use some additional layers, both work really well as a backdrop to address the themes like faith and the value of diversity. Unlike other Don Bluth movies, which are full of random characters, this one focusses on the main group. The animation is gorgeous and the T-Rex is as a result properly terrifying. And then there is the soundtrack. The score is very atmospheric (hard to go wrong with James Horner) and “If We Hold on Together” is one of those songs which are not exactly unforgettable, but which pop immediately back into your mind once you hear the tune.
All in all this is certainly a movie which is worth the watch.
Now, even though I didn’t narrow it down further this time around, you can. Pick three, leave the one you think should win.