Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Land Before Time

A lot of people are commenting about how negative and depressing this movie is. Well, not all kids are looking for a rainbows-and-cotton-candy kind of film. This was one of my favorite movies as a child. Sure, maybe I was a little aloof to what was really happening, but I found nothing depressing about the film. Yes, it's sad and yes the happy ending isn't a disney-type happy, but I'm sure that doesn't really matter to most kids.

 This is one of those films that I expected to enjoy much less than many of my family's Disney favorites. As it turned out, both my children and my wife and I like the movie immensely.
The touching story of Little Foot, the last remaining member of his family of Brontosauruses (Brontosauri?), is a great adventure as well. He joins up with younger members of other dinosaur families as they all journey to the Great Valley in search of food.
Along the way they encounter hunger, thirst, earthquakes, and, not least of all, the dreaded Sharptooth. The feel of the dinosaur age is well presented and the characters are cute without being saccharine (and they don't sing!).
The lesson that friends can be friends even though they don't look like you or act just like you is a nice one for kids to see. The idea that working together is important for reaching a goal is also a valuable one.
Having owned a VHS copy of the movie, I was anxious to see the DVD. The result on this particular version is very dissappointing.
First, the version is full-screen with no wide-screen option. This seems to be a minor problem since most of the action seems to take place center screen. It would have been nice to have the option for widescreen, however.
Secondly, the color and brightness varies widely from scene to scene (and, more jarringly, sometimes within a scene). The opening scene, which starts underwater, is actually darker and less sharp than on the VHS version. In several quiet, close-up scenes the picture will be perfectly exposed and then the picture will shift to a darker look and then back. Very annoying. Various nicks and scratches appear throughout the film - it appears that no effort was made to clean up the video master at all.
There were also no extras on the disc at all, and at the price of this DVD, you would expect a little more than just the movie and chapter selections. Disney issued their first few DVDs with little problems like this: no widescreen option, varying degrees of video quality, etc. They however, have moved to a more consistent product over the last six months. Hopefully, movies like The Land Before Time will be given better treatment in the future. This one in particular deserves better than it got.

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