The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists (1995)


USA. 1995.


Director/Producer – Roy Allen Smith, Screenplay – Dev Ross, Animation Producer – Nelson Shin, Music – Michael Tavera, Songs – Leslie Bricusse, Animation Supervisor – Graham Morris, Art Direction – Anthony B. Christov. Production Company – Universal Cartoon Studio/MCA Home Entertainment


Scott McAfee (Littlefoot), Juliana Hansen (Ali), Candace Hutson (Cera), Jeff Bennett (Petrie/Ichy), Heather Hogan (Ducky), Rob Paulsen (Spike), Tress MacNeill (Dil/Ali’s Mother), Charles Durning (Archie), Linda Gray (Grandma), Carol Bruce (Old One), Kenneth Mars (Grandpa)


A herd of migrating longnecks arrive in the Great Valley. Amongst them, Littlefoot finds a new friend in Ali, a girl of his own species. However, his spending time with Ali makes Cera jealous. Littlefoot’s grandfather falls ill and the longneck leader tells them that to save his life they need the golden petals of the Night Flower. The only way to obtain the Night Flower is to journey through the perilous Land of the Mists, territory once familiar to the longnecks that has now become undergone geological change and become filled with dangerous creatures. Littlefoot decides to set out with Ali as guide. When Littlefoot becomes trapped behind a rockfall, Ali must go back and get the help of Cera, Spike, Ducky and the others. Left all on his own, Littlefoot becomes prey to the scheming crocodile Dil and his avian companion Ichy who see him as food.

Journey Through the Mists was the fourth of the direct-to-video sequels made to Don Bluth’s original The Land Before Time (1988). The others in this amazingly prolific video franchise include The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure (1994), The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving (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).

Journey Through the Mists is the slightest of the Land Before Time films viewed so far. It is surprisingly slow and the plot episodic. Dramatically, all that the film does is circle around the hardly thrilling peril of the other dinosaurs having to rescue Littlefoot after he becomes trapped on the other side of a rockfall in a cave. This time Littlefoot almost gets a romance, although the series is pitched to pre-adolescents far too much for this to even vaguely flower.

Journey Through the Mists came out just after Disney’s The Lion King (1994), from which it appropriates the phrase Circle of Life and even devotes a song to it. The film falls into the leaf-eaters good, meat-eaters bad dichotomy that underlies the series. A technical quibble one had with the film was the presence of a rat among the bad guys, where in fact the Upper Cretaceous (where the films are clearly set) was far too early a period for the evolution for mammalian lifeforms such as the rat.

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