Don Bluth left Disney in 1979 after growing dissatisfaction with the company's leadership and handling of its animated films. He wanted to bring animation back to Walt Disney's days, both as an art form and as a storytelling medium. With this goal, he would release ten theatrical films from 1982 to 2000.
Bluth's films are well-known for their detailed animation and disturbing imagery, especially when compared to other children's films at the time. Some of them even managed to challenge Disney financially and critically, but behind-the-scenes problems and the Disney Renaissance resulted in some truly uninteresting products.
10) 'Thumbelina' (1994)
When an old lady plants a magical seed in her garden, it blossoms into a tiny girl she adopts as a daughter. She falls in love with the prince of the fairies before being separated during a midnight ride. All manner of garden animals become fascinated with Thumbelina and desire to marry her.
Thumbelina is the most unsatisfactory of Bluth's 90s films because it lacks stakes. The story of a little girl avoiding marriage proposals by toads and moles is diluted compared to Buth's previous works. It also suffers from trying to emulate Disney's winning formula for animated 90s musicals, from casting Jodi Bensonas, a curious red-haired girl with a beautiful singing voice.
9) 'A Troll in Central Park' (1994)
Stanly, a troll who grows flowers and is sweet and kind compared to his brutish kin, is banished to a place where nothing grows. She meets two children in Central Park and guides them to realize the power of dreams.
Many consider this to be Bluth's lowest point, but the film manages to have a better narrative than Thumbelina. Stanly goes through a minor character arc, and the inclusion of young children adds some stakes, but the film is too childish for general audiences, substituting Bluth's iconic scary imagery and heavy themes with pastel colors and dancing flowers to enthuse very young children.
8) 'Rock-a-Doodle' (1991)
As a storm rages, a boy named Edmund learns about a Chanticleer who could raise the sun with his crowing. He is turned into a kitten by the Grand Duke of Owls, who wants Chanticleer gone to bring eternal night.
If none of this makes sense, you can understand why this film was in limbo since Walt Disney's days. It is a scatterbrained film that is difficult to follow: one moment, Edmund is walking through a city of anthropomorphic animals by his house. Yet this mad lib style gives the film a special charm and memorability.
7) 'The Pebble And The Penguin' (1995)
Hubie, an Adele penguin who finds a lovely stone to propose to his girlfriend with, is intercepted by Drake, a buff penguin who also wants her. Now lost at sea, Hubie teams up with a rockhopper penguin who has dreams of returning home.
Pebble and The Penguin is a film that is almost as good as a movie. Martin Short, Annie Golden, and Tim Curry are all strong voices, and the film still has Bluth's great animation. What's holding it back is the plot, which starts off as an underdog love story, but turns into a buddy road trip film.
6) 'Titan A.E.' (2000)
Cale Tucker, whose father worked on the Titan, discovers that it still exists and can be used to help humanity start over. Using a map placed in his father's ring, Cale and his companions navigate the universe while avoiding the same aliens who destroyed Earth the first time.
Bluth's top concept film is Titan A.E., featuring older characters battling to survive in a harsh science-fiction galaxy. His style fits very well with sci-fi, creating some very stand-out alien designs. Unfortunately, it came out the same year as sci-fi disaster Battlefield Earth, and during an era where CGI movies spelled the end of hand-drawn.
5) 'Anastasia' (1997)
When her family is overthrown in the Russian Revolution of 1917, young Anastasia Rominoff's world comes to an end, bleeding from her head and becoming amnesia. Years later, two con-men hire her to help them claim a reward from her grandmother, which helps her reclaim her memories.
Dank to her writing, Anastasia succeeds where Thumbelina fails, and she develops a character that changes and changes over the course of her adventures. Ironically, Bluth's most successful Disney clone became a Disney Princess when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019.
4) 'All Dogs Go to Heaven' (1989)
Charlie, a dog murdered by his business partner, Carface, tries to overthrow their casino. He steals a pocket watch that represents his life and rewinds it in order to get his revenge, though he may go to hell if it ever fails. They rescue an orphaned girl who can converse with animals.
The Little Mermaid from Disney is a solid film with strong moral themes. Bluth's main character is probably the most morally complex in his catalog, being a thief who happily breaks the law for his own profit. The film also has some of Bluth's most disturbing imagery, including a demonic nightmare where Charlie experiences his potential fate.
3) 'An American Tail' (1986)
Fievel Mousekewitz is separated from his family on a journey from Russia to the United States. He arrives in New York City and is surrounded by a hostile group seeking to exploit his vulnerability. However, with the help of some kind people, he is on the right path to find his family and maybe inspire an opposition movement among his fellow immigrants.
Bluth and Steven Spielberg teamed up to direct an animated film that wanted to dip his toes into the world of animation. The film opens with a lot of warmth and warmth, which helps set the tone for the sensitive subject of immigration. It would become Bluth's first major triumph over Disney, surpassing The Great Mouse Detective and becoming the highest-grossing animated film of its time.
2) 'The Secret of NIMH' (1982)
Mrs. Brisby, who has recently widowed, is desperate to save her family. Her youngest son is ill with pneumonia, and she can't wait to see him outside, despite the farmer's promise. They hunt out the rats that live in the farmer's rosebush, famous for their intelligence, and become involved in a deadly political game linked to her deceased husband.
Related: 'NIMH' Series In The Works at Fox
Bluth aspired to recreate Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in this film, which he achieved in many ways. The film's real strength is in its portrayal of Mrs. Brisby, who is one of the greatest portrayals of motherhood in cinema.
1) 'The Land Before Time'(1988)
Spielberg and Bluth used George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and James Horner to direct the story of Littlefoot, a young Brontosaurus who is traveling to a valley paradise after losing his mother, and attempts to lead them according to his mother's tales.
All this talent created a timeless tale of loss, faith, and prejudice told through the eyes of children. Though they are taught to follow their own ways, they are still developing and proving that working together will lead to a better world.