Director – Roy Allen Smith, Screenplay – Dew Ross, Producers – Roy Allen Smith & Zahra Dowlatabadi, Animation Producer – Nelson Shin, Music – Michael Tavera, Animation Directors – Frederik Du Chau & Graham Morris, Art Direction – Anthony B. Christov. Production Company – Universal Cartoon Studios/MGM Home Entertainment
Scott McAfee (Littlefoot), Candace Hutson (Cera), Jeff Bennett (Petrie/Mutt/Iguanadon), Rob Paulsen (Spike), Heather Hogan (Ducky), Whitby Hertford (Hyp), Linda Gary (Grandma/Mother Quetzalcoatlus), Kenneth Mars (Grandpa), John Ingle (Narrator/Cera’s Father), Scott Menville (Nod), Nicholas Guest (Hyp’s Father), Tress MacNeille (Stegosaurus)
In the Great Valley , the peaceful coexistence of the dinosaurs is interrupted as a meteorite shower causes the valley’s water source, The Thundering Falls, to dry up. As the remaining water is rationed, some of the adult dinosaurs descend into bitter arguments over who is using more than their fair share. And so Littlefoot and the others set out into the dangerous lands beyond the valley to find another source of water. There they must deal with another group of bullying dinosaurs from the valley that are bigger than they are, as well as a fire that threatens to raze the whole area.
Don Bluth’s The Land Before Time (1988) was a modest hit. In the 1990s, Bluth and Amblin sold out interest in the property to Universal and MGM, who spun The Land Before Time out into another children’s animation franchise. There they produced the likes of The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure (1994), The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists (1995), The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island (1997), The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock (1998), The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire (2000), The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze (2001), The Land Before Time IX: Journey to the Big Water (2002), The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration (2003), The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses (2004), The Land Before Time XII: The Great Day of the Flyers (2006) and The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends (2007), followed by a cartoon series The Land Before Time (2007-8), even a series of video-released Land Before Time Singalong Songs specials. The Time of the Great Giving was the second of the sequels.
These animation franchises invite cynicism. They are nothing more than marketing ventures that seek to exploit children’s love of the originals and get them to pressure parents to buy more. That said, The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving is a decent little film. It has certainly been made for a very young age group – around the pre-school age. It has a sincere plaintive message about sharing. Surprisingly, it also has a subversive message about good parenting and parents not bullying kids with authority. (It is unclear whether this has been intended as a message designed for the pre-school kids or a cautionary one aimed at the watching parents). The film is told with an appealing simplicity. The characterisations are nicely done and the climactic raptor attack sequences reasonably exciting. There are some banal songs. In all, The Time of the Great Giving is a film that comes out arguably even better than the original The Land Before Time did.