|The Land Before Time Deleted scenes (First film)|
|The only remaining footage of part of the heavily cut Sharptooth fight scene|
Don Bluth's 1988 animated feature film The Land Before Time began production in 1985, under the title The Land Before Time Began throughout half of its production. In April/May 1988, just six/seven months before the release of the film, the running time sat at 80-82 minutes. However, due to various scenes that were deemed either too frightening or too difficult for children to understand (plus a few other minor cuts that happened for unknown reasons) the running time was reduced to 69 minutes (including credits), making it one of the shortest feature-length films ever released.
Against Don Bluth's wishes - during the months leading up to the film's release - over 11 to 13 minutes worth of full audio, and fully animated scenes were cut from the film before release, many of which were the result of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas wanting a more light-hearted film. One of the first of these major cut scenes included potentially overwhelming images from the encounter with Sharptooth (the Tyrannosaurus rex), which showed close-ups of him attacking out of nowhere in the briars. This particular scene contains 19 finished shots that never made it into the final film. It was also rumored that the scene of Sharptooth ripping open the back of Littlefoot's mother was originally more graphic and was altered to show the event only in shadow, however, there is no evidence to support this claim. The theory that the early release tape contained some cut footage also 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 fat "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 also a part of the film, which was unknown until 2018. It is unknown as to whether this scene was cut with the other 10+ minutes of deleted scenes during late production, or if it was cut earlier. One thing is certain - it can be found in the April-May-June 1987 script draft for the movie, which was around the halfway point in the film's production.
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 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 and animation cels from a number of the deleted scenes have shown up in the past (and continue to show up on auction sites such as Heritage Auctions and Van Eaton Galleries nowadays), and interestingly enough, a number of them appear in the movie's three counterpart storybooks Friends in Need, The Search for the Great Valley, and The Land Before Time: The Illustrated Story. Also, another Don Bluth-directed film from 1989, All Dogs Go To Heaven, contained a major cut scene that was found in 2016, leading fans to believe that the cut scenes for The Land Before Time may show up in the future and are not truly lost.
Attempts are being made to contact people who worked on the film. Some members of the Gang of Five (the biggest Land Before Time forum to date) have asked Mark Pudleiner, Dick Zondag (animation director), and Stu Krieger about information.
Update 06/23/2017: New information learned from Mark Pudleiner, who asked producer Gary Goldman for information about the trimmed Sharptooth attack scene. To avoid confusion, the term "shots" in this quote are referred to as "scenes".
I asked the one of the owners and producer Gary Goldman.
— Mark Pudleiner, 2017
Though [the uncut Sharptooth attack] was approved at the storyboard stage. It was at a screening in April or May of 1988 just 6 months before completion of the film at a a 20th Century Fox theater in Soho Square, London, with just Don, John, me, Steven and his first wife and George in one of the small 30 seat theaters. The problem is that when [the Sharptooth attack] was edited, cutting 19 scenes out - including audio, by one of Steven’s favorite editors at Pinewood Studios in England, it was mainly the T-Rex shots (scenes to me) of full head shots with wide open mouths, attacking into the lens of the camera at the child dinosaurs as they took cover in the briars. However, it was less than a minute lost sections of the T-Rex attack and the kids. Steven and George both felt that those scenes would have triggered an audience of 4 and 5 year olds crying and having their mothers and fathers holding them in their arms in the lobby waiting for a safe time to take their kids back to their seats. Those cuts remained, the tiny short cuts were taped together and rolled and we took them back to Dublin. However, we never saved the prints or the negatives for those scenes, all were animated and cleaned up, many of which were in color.
— Gary Goldman, 2017
Though it was said that the scenes were not saved, the same was said for the cut scenes of All Dogs Go to Heaven, but the uncut hell scene was found in the summer of 2016.
Update 02/27/18: April-May-June 1987 script draft posted by Gang of Five user Sneak, who purchased the script digitally on the ScriptFly website. Reveals a lot of new information about when certain scenes were in the film, confirms the speculation about the existence of a travel montage, proves the validity of a close-up shot of Littlefoot's mother reacting to being bitten by Sharptooth, and also proves the Oasis Scene was going to be in the film as well.
Below is a documentation of all the known cut scenes as of 2019. Currently, it is still a work in progress.
When the movie was first screened in April/May 1988, six months before completion of the film, it seems that it wasn't yet scored, since there are a number of scenes that simply don't fit into the music (such as the extended Sharptooth attack scene and the Oasis scene). According to Goldman, other scenes were removed by one of Steven Spielberg's editors fairly close to the release of the film, after it was scored, which is why there are chunks in the music that are missing, like in The Black Cauldron, though normally not to as great of an extent. Because of these reasons, nearly all of the major cuts occurred during late production.
Early Edit(s) (early production; 1985/1986)
Littlefoot and the Snake
Early in the film, when Littlefoot was still a baby, there was originally going to be a scene where he encountered a Dinilysia (a type of prehistoric snake). The scene was titled "Littlefoot and the Snake". In the scene, it attacks and nearly kills Littlefoot, before his mother arrives and saves him by picking it up in her mouth and flinging it away. This was one of the earliest of all the known cut scenes. Storyboards for this scene are all that survives of it, though it is likely that the scene was never fully animated as it was cut long before most of the other scenes.
Mid-production Edit(s) (late 1986 to early 1988)
Rooter (added scene)
When the film was (allegedly, though unconfirmed) screened to psychologists in 1987, the death of Mother was deemed too traumatic, and so the Old Rooter scene was added to the movie. The original version was originally planned to just fade or cut to the flyers playing with the cherries. This addition of Rooter prevented the entire death scene from being cut out. Rooter was added a while before most of the cuts happened in mid-1988, as the June 1987 section of the April-May-June 1987 script includes Rooter's scene as part of the new revision.
Sharptooth during the Great Earthshake
There is a shot of Sharptooth that was cut from the Great Earthshake scene, but exactly when and why it was cut is unknown. Not even the original source of the cel to the right is known - all that's known concerning the possibility of when it was discovered is that it was featured in a couple of YouTube videos from 2012. The cel was assumed fake for a while as the proportions seemed to look a bit strange; however, the April-May-June 1987 script that was found in 2018 proves its validity.
There is also an early production sketch from 1986 that contains an early, rougher version of the shot (not featured on article as of yet).
The Great Earthshake Sharptooth shot existed during production in 1986, and later in mid-1987, but was cut at some point afterwards. Exactly when it was cut from the film is still unknown to this day; it is possible that it could have been cut alongside the 19 shots that were cut from the earlier Sharptooth attack scene. One thing is for sure though is that it could not have been cut in post-production alongside the big 10+ minutes of cuts, as the shot doesn't fit in with the film's soundtrack.
Later Edit(s) (April/May 1988)
Most of the notable edits of the film come from the later stages of production. In April 1988, the film's running time was about 80-82 minutes, but by release it was reduced to just 69 minutes.
First Sharptooth Attack (extended)
The initial Sharptooth attack sequence (the chase scene, before the fight) is missing almost a minute of footage, footage which was in full color and had audio. Much of the cut footage was more intense than what is in the final cut, with multiple close-up shots of Sharptooth attempting to snatch up Littlefoot and Cera in his jaws and attacking out of nowhere on numerous occasions. Below is a quote from Don Bluth in his Toon Talk Magazine from 2001 that describes what happened with the scene that got it trimmed by nearly a minute. This story is similar to Goldman's from earlier in the article but also includes the reactions of the Sullivan Bluth Studios members (Bluth, Gary Goldman, and John Pomeroy) when Spielberg and Lucas planned to edit the scene in order to make it less "scary". Like the Goldman story, the term "shots" in this quote are referred to as "scenes".
The Tyrannosaurus Rex, now in color, was unusually dramatic. John [Pomeroy], Gary [Goldman], and myself set out for the meeting at 20th Century Fox's screening facility in London. The unveiling of our work was embraced, as expected with grins, merry laughter and even applause. As the lights came up, so did Steven [Spielberg] and George [Lucas]. "It's too scarry," both remarked. "We'll have kids crying in the lobby, and a lot of angry parents. You don't want that." "Let's meet at Elstree Studio tomorrow, they have an editing room there," suggested George. "Good," Steven agreed, "we'll tame it down and cut out some of the biting moments." John was speechless, Gary [was] stunned, and I was in retreat, into my head, behind bolted doors. Directing a movie is like birthing children. To see it rusched into surgery, even for commercial reasons, somehow fractures one's enthusiasm. On that day, nineteen fully colored Rex scenes were cut from the movie. I mourned for a week. Were Steven and George right to do it? In hindsight, I think yes. Land grossed $72 million worldwide, and became one of the supporting pillars for the animation rennaissance. Least you chose to forget, Land Before Time has been followed by six sequels, direct to video, that have generated in excess of $250 million. That you can't forget.
— Don Bluth, Toon Talk Magazine, January 1, 2001
Through a number of storyboards released by one of The Land Before Time's animators, Mark Pudleiner, on his blog throughout 2015, a good chunk of the first Sharptooth attack has finally been pieced together. These scenes were also fully animated, as shown on the cel from "The Search for the Great Valley" book to the right, but they were cut from the film before the soundtrack was created, which explains why the music would not fit the scene. In 2018, a cel of Sharptooth from one of the cut shots was discovered from an unknown source.
In order of the 1986 storyboards and the 1987 script (cut sections are marked in bold italics): As Littlefoot and Cera are playing with the frogs, a roar cuts through the air, and Sharptooth's foot is shown stomping onto the ground. Cera and Littlefoot notice the ground shaking. The frogs vanish, and Sharptooth appears, moving toward the two young dinosaurs. Sharptooth rams headfirst into the dead tree they are both underneath. The kids run out, but slip and fall, as his shadow looms over him. They leap away before he can stomp down on them, and run back under the tree. Trying to escape, they climb up the hollow inside but Sharptooth lunges down from the top of it, trying to snatch them up in his jaws. They fall and run away as he tears up the thorn tree (as seen beside this). The part where Sharptooth rams the tree, where the kids climb the tree, and when he lunges from the top and then completely rips it up is completely missing from the final film.
Littlefoot and Cera try to run away, but Sharptooth lunges at them as they enter a thicket of briars. Littlefoot gets caught in thorns and when he breaks free, they fly into Sharptooth's eye, permanently blinding it. He shakes around in pain, attempting to scratch where his eye had been blinded. Enraged, Sharptooth slashes and claws at numerous thorn bushes, desperately trying to find Littlefoot and Cera. Eventually, he calms down, and then starts to slowly search for the children who had blinded him. Cera, who tries to make a run for it, gives away the position of she and Littlefoot. The part where Sharptooth's eye was blinded was originally supposed to happen before he started looking for the children in the briars; this is why he appears injured already when he is searching for the kids. These two scenes in this paragraph were switched around before the film was scored for unknown reasons. The "scratching off" bit is actually reused animation of Sharptooth trying to scratch Ducky and Petrie before his death near the end of the film.
In a jumpscare panning shot, Sharptooth breaks through the brambles directly in front of Cera, and just misses biting her. Cera runs past Littlefoot as he just narrowly escapes the jaws of the Tyrannosaurus and later Littlefoot. Sharptooth then looms over them, and attempts to bite them, however both children run the other way. Sharptooth then turns and misses another bite, before finally bursting out of the thorn bushes and leaping, landing directly underneath the two kids. Littlefoot and Cera try to turn around and run the other way, but the carnivore lowers his tail, blocking them off. They both run around the opposite sides of his head as he lowers it down in a semi-closeup shot. All of the scenes in this paragraph are not in the film, minus footage of him bursting out of the bushes and scratching off, the kids running, and him leaping.
Sharptooth then leaps again as the kids exit the bushes and try to run, before Littlefoot's mother knocks him away with her tail. It seems that in the final film, this second leap is actually the landing of the first leap.
Post-Production (after soundtrack was created)
Sharptooth vs Littlefoot's Mother (extended)
The fight between Sharptooth and Littlefoot's mother was originally going to be longer. Notably, this scene is only missing 19 seconds of footage (according to soundtrack official and final comparisons) shortly before the earthquake begins, and the music that plays is lower and more dramatic. This scene was cut down after the earlier parts of the Sharptooth attack, since this scene had music. Many believed that this extended fight would explain the sudden appearance of the mother's neck wound, however, the April-May-June 1987 does not suggest that any such wound happened.
Going by the April-May-June 1987 script, the cut footage features Littlefoot's mother fighting with Sharptooth AFTER she is bitten by him, which features a close-up of her yelling in pain. A cel was discovered in early 2015 that shows this close-up (it can be seen to the right); however, it wasn't until the 1987 script was discovered that the validity of the cel was confirmed.
In order of the script (cut parts highlighted in bold italics): Littlefoot's mother reacts to the "death bite". Littlefoot and Cera watch as she is torn open (the camera angle only shows this in shadow). Littlefoot's mother hits into numerous rocks while Sharptooth attempts to bite her, but she manages to hit him with her tail. She sends mud flying at him down a small hill, however, this causes Littlefoot and Cera to get swept up by the mud and thus they slide down and crash into Sharptooth's foot (as seen in the clip below from a trailer for the movie). Littlefoot and Cera are able to get away from Sharptooth and hide in a canyon while the battle continues. Afterwards, Littlefoot's mother hits Sharptooth again and sends him down a steeper hill while she and the children escape the canyon area. This scene is cut down heavily in the final film, to the point where only the soundtrack and book adaptations were the only sorts of hints that indicated that footage was cut from this fight.
Discovery of Spike (extended)
One of the best known cut scenes - the discovery of Spike, was cut down a lot. The extended version has often been referred to as the "Berry Scene" by fans. 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. The extended version of this scene appears in both "The Illustrated Story" and "Friends in Need" books.
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 That Looks Like A Longneck", where the movie does an awkward fade out and the characters noticeably freeze in place. This never happens at another point, so it's obvious something was cut. There is a possibility that it contained Cera acting like a jerk after claiming she found it first. There's also potential that 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.
The April-May-June 1987 script confirmed the travel montage speculation - there was in fact going to be a montage mid-way through the film that played "If We Hold On Together" during the course of it. One section of this montage shows Petrie holding on for dear life as he tries to keep with the others, who are moving at a sustained pace, while on the other hand, he is exhausted.
Green Food Scene (extended)
Small bits of the green food scene are known to be cut, and this was probably just to speed up the pacing a bit. 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 seems to be severely cut up, since it's impossible to line up anymore. One shot from the trimmed green food scene can be seen in one of the trailers for the film, and is also shown in the restoration video below from 0:18 - 0:21.
Plan to Kill Sharptooth (extended)
There is also additional missing footage of the plan to kill Sharptooth (as indicated by analysis of the soundtrack), with Littlefoot likely explaining the reasoning behind doing this: Sharptooth has found the Great Valley, and they must stop him before he enters. Plants are also growing around the area on the right side where they spot him climbing as well, indicating that the Great Valley is close. The whole gang originally knew it was there, and they needed to defeat Sharptooth first, together. However, in the final film, they are not supposed to know that the Great Valley is close; this does not make much sense and is reason for why the original ending was more reasonable.
Sharptooth's Death (extended)
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. As shown in the April-May-June 1987 script draft, Petrie originally fought with Sharptooth for a much longer period of time, with Ducky trying to distract him by making faces and him landing in front of her.
The shot showing Sharptooth's body sinking into the lake was also originally supposed to be longer, and there was also a scene with the group reuniting with Petrie when he turned out to be alive, which could have had the hugging scene follow it, since it could also fit in there. Littlefoot then guided them to the Valley, carrying Petrie on his head. This is reused animation from earlier, so it's possible the re-cut may have been done to spare audiences another segment of repeated animation in this film. The movie then continued on as normal.
Last but not least, there is the original ending. We now know that what is now the ending of the film happened considerably earlier, but piecing it together is hard. Before the main characters reached the Mountains That Burn, Littlefoot had split up after a fight between himself and Cera. Originally, this 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). He then starts to enter, playing in the waterfalls in celebration of discovering the valley, and then realizes he has go find his friends because they went the wrong way and won’t find it on their own, 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) and after the final battle with Sharptooth, Littlefoot guides his friends into the Valley.
It is noticeable that they eventually ended up on the right path from there, and may have been going the right way. 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? Something was likely cut out with Littlefoot revealing he had found the Great Valley, but the narration regarding these scenes were not. 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. The ending being seen in all three book adaptions of the movie, as well as parts not adding up in the last act of the film seem to suggest that the change to the ending was indeed a last-minute change, possibly one of the final edits made to the film before release.
- It's worth noting that near the end, when the spirit of Littlefoot's mother is leading him through the cave tunnel, Littlefoot is smiling as he runs through the cave, though he is supposed to be upset during that scene. So it's obvious to which that part was most likely a scene that was part of the original ending; when Littlefoot found the great valley himself.
- Also, in the wide shot, when the clouds re-shape to form the spirit of his mother, you can actually see both the pond where they defeated Sharptooth and the boulder they used to stop him sitting where it was before it was pushed. Indicating that the scene was indeed swapped around.
- As Grandpa Longneck's (Littlefoot's grandfather's) voice actor was listed in the credits, there may have been a scene where he spoke in either the beginning or the end, but this is unknown at this point. In the film, he only chuckles. However, in the April-May-June 1987 script draft, he does not speak, so it may also have been just a rumor.
- 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 simply an animation mistake.
- The film contains music that is not included in the soundtrack. Two scenes, particularly the scene where Sharptooth wakes up, and when he attacks the gang later, both play one track that is not in the soundtrack.
Main article: The Land Before Time Sequels: Deleted Scenes
|Land Before Time Deleted scenes (Sequels)|
- Gabriel Damon as Littlefoot
- Candace Hutson as Cera
- Judith Barsi as Ducky
- Will Ryan as Petrie
- Bill Erwin as Grandpa Longneck (chuckling only, possibly had a more major speaking role before the cuts) and Clifford (crownhead) (unconfirmed)
- Burke Byrnes as Daddy Topps/Mr. Threehorn/Cera's Dad/Topsy
- Helen Shaver as Littlefoot's Mother
- Pat Hingle as Narrator and Rooter
- Frank Welker as Sharptooth, Spike, The Grey-Nose (unconfirmed) and Lizard-heads (unconfirmed)
The full script of the film can be downloaded at this link: 
- ↑ Reply to e-mail sent to Mark Pudleiner about cut scenes: http://z7.invisionfree.com/thegangoffive/index.php?showtopic=16016&view=findpost&p=40015439
- ↑ The rumor of the pre-release McDonalds VHS containing cut scenes debunked. http://z7.invisionfree.com/thegangoffive/index.php?showtopic=14138&view=findpost&p=22077664
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