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Dinosaur Theory : Uncovering a New Approach to Screenwriting

New citations to this author. New articles related to this author's research. Email address for updates. My profile My library Metrics Alerts. Sign in. Associate Professor La Trobe University. The adult dinosaurs in the film have been cast as loving parents, thus greatly heightening their innate appeal to the imaginations of young viewers.

But very early in the story, these parents are traumatically separated from their young. If the look of ''The Land Before Time'' is attractively old-fashioned, the film's story line is more modern.

It owes a debt to the theories of mythology espoused by Joseph Campbell, whose ideas found a pop cultural outlet in George Lucas's ''Star Wars'' Mr. In congruence with the patterns Mr. Campbell detected in the myths of many different cultures, the film sets forth the idea that a loved one must die to make possible the exploits of a young hero, in this case a tiny brontosaurus named Littlefoot.


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The last of his breed, Littlefoot with the charmingly childlike voice of Gabriel Damon is sent forth by his mother with the voice of Helen Shaver and grandparents to find a place called the Great Valley, where edible leaves abound. His departure from his leafless, famine-ridden homeland is accompanied by an earthquake and a terrible battle, in which his mother is mortally wounded by a Tyrannosaurus rex.

This is staged in a manner that should not be frightening to children, but they may be mystified by the dying mother brontosaurus's declaration that ''the great circle of life has begun.

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The film's different species, who call each other names like ''long-neck'' brontosaurus and ''sharp-tooth'' tyrannosaurus , are discouraged by the adult dinosaurs from mingling with one another. But once the children are separated from their parents, they form a cheerfully heterogeneous band. Littlefoot teams up with a tiny pterodactyl and members of several other species, chief among them a bratty little triceratops named Cera, who sounds just like a spoiled human 6-year-old. I knew! I did! Luckily, it isn't very long either.

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At a just-right length of 73 minutes, it ought to win audiences' hearts without wearing out their patience. Carr; music by James Horner; production designer, Mr.

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Bluth; produced by Mr. At the National Twin, Broadway at 44th Street, and other theaters. Running time: 73 minutes.