Like many people who grew up in the late 80s and most of the 90s (some of us have yet to grow up *ahem* moi *ahem*), I developed a liking to animated feature films. When you hear those three words, you might immediately associate those cartoon movies with Disney. Well, I do too. But there were a couple of movies that were not part of the Disney Canon, back in the day, that have fonder memories of than of big D's. I am referring to Don Bluth's movies of the 80s, specifically An American Tail and The Land Before Time (Ducky!).
In the 90s, maybe because I was older and more aware of the world, I was able to mark the passage of time with the annual releases of Disney films. I can recall the timeline starting with The Little Mermaid all the way up to Tarzan. Each film uniquely reminded me of where I was in my life. (Hey, weren't you just a kid? How different could each year be besides going from grade to grade in school? Score one for you, I guess.) I loved loved loved Disney's musical format. I thought every animated film would have their characters at one point spontaneously combust (boom!) into song. I remember there was a time when I could not wait for my parents to get me the new Disney sing-a-long book which I would read along and spoil the movie ahead of time. No worries, because I would at least know the words to the song. No one can knock Lion King off of any list, ever. Finding Nemo comes close, but I am biased a little towards the musical format of the 90s. Also, I am glad that Disney's animation studios are going back to drawings rather than CGI films (See: The Princess and The Frog).
Recently, I started wondering what existed before 1989's Mermaid. Why does my timeline of animation (tanlinimation?) begin on 1989 when I had a couple of years under my tiny baby belt? Sure I was young, but I should at least have memories of merchandise in later years. Well, I do remember Oliver & Company ("Why Should I worry!") which pre-dated Mermaid, but only because of a picture book that I had. But that's it.
But sure enough that's where An American Tale and The Land Before Time fit into my tan-line-imation. You see, after doing a quick Wikipedia search of those movies, I have discovered that the creator/animator of those films, Don Bluth, was an ex patriot of Disney. Those two films actually fared better than Disney's films in the 80s. Talk about a shift in power. I really do believe those films were and are on par with the 90s films of Disney. I do not remember much about An American Tale, but I have home video evidence that The Land Before Time was to me then what The Lion King/Finding Nemo is to me now. I do not think I can watch TLBT today because it would make me cry. It would make a grown man cry. I cannot express how much that film turns me back into a little kid. Every weekend or any slow afternoon, my brothers and I would be rolling around in the carpet with that tape on in the background. It's a small gem from my childhood.
I propose a toast to Don Bluth. Cheers!