‘Land Before Time’ Writer Explains Why He Wrote That Gut-Wrenching Scene (You Know The One)

The Land Before Time Spike, Petrie, Ducky, Littlefoot, 1988
Universal/Everett Collection

Stu Krieger still gets poked fun at on social media for writing one of the saddest scenes of all time. When The Land Before Time premiered in 1988, most people probably thought it was just another children’s movie about dinosaurs. However, it truly tugged at the heartstrings and became one of the most beloved animated films of the time, spawning many, many sequels. The film follows Littlefoot, Ducky, Cera, Petrie and Spike, a group of young dinosaurs as they make their way through a tough prehistoric landscape, learning lessons along the way.

Now, Krieger still gets comments like: “So you’re the reason for my childhood trauma when you killed Littlefoot’s mom!” Turns out, it wasn’t actually his idea but Steven Spielberg‘s. Spielberg admitted that a pivotal point in his life was watching Bambi‘s mother die in the Disney film because it was his first introduction to the concept of death. Spielberg talked to Krieger about adding a death scene into the Land Before Time film.

Krieger explained, “The death of Bambi’s mom, for him when he was growing up, was so impactful because it was the first introduction to death and the concept of something you’re going to have to deal with at some point in your life. So, we had this discussion about, you know, even though it was difficult, it was an important lesson and maybe we should incorporate that into this story as well.”

The Land Before Time US poster, 1988

Universal/Everett Collection

He added about writing children’s tales, “When I started to have my own children, I was taking them to see things and going, ‘You know, family entertainment doesn’t have to be this dumb!’ I would rather have a kid turn to their mom and go, ‘What does that mean?’ than feel like we’re talking down to them. I think kids are much more intelligent than we give them credit for.”

The Land Before Time 1988

Everett Collection

Krieger was not involved in the direct-to-video sequels because Spielberg was not attached and he felt they were phoning it in. Well, we will always have the original Land Before Time. Tell us, does that scene still make you cry?

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1980s Top Summer Blockbusters

July 2019

Celebrate the biggest summer movies of the ’80s, when moviegoing morphed from mere entertainment to blockbuster events.

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