The Dinosaur Walks Again

Disney's latest production is a wonderful blend of live action photography, computer animation and special effects.

In keeping with the high standards it's already known for, Disney's latest production, "Dinosaur", is a wonderful blend of live action photography, computer animation and special effects. Set in the late Cretaceous period, the film follows an Iguanadon named Aladar, who is brought up on an island by a clan of Lemurs after being separated from his real parents.

One day, when Aladar has grown up, a meteor shower destroys the island on which he lives with his Lemur family, forcing them to seek refuge with a group of dinosaurs searching for water and a new mating ground. The leader of the pack is Kron, a gruff, tyrannical Iguanadon, who drives the herd onwards with a Darwin-esque "only the fittest survive" philosophy. He does not take kindly to Aladar, nor to Aladar's growing attraction to his sister, Neera.

As the herd travels forward, it has to face a variety of obstacles: lack of water, the constant threat of stronger, more powerful predators, and the hostile landscape. Aladar and his friends, the tall and dignified Brachiosaur Baylene and the cynical Styrachosaur Eema, find the going tough, but stick together to help each other through tough spots. It is Aladar's resolve, together with his belief that working together is the only way for the herd to survive, that attracts Neera to him and brings him into direct conflict with Kron.

At its core, "Dinosaur" is a simple fable, with a simple moral: united we stand, divided we fall. By placing this in the context of a prehistoric tale, Disney's done a great job of ensuring that the message gets through to its audience, and of immersing the audience in the tale - by the end of this film, you're rooting for Aladar and his ragtag team to triumph the insurmountable odds they keep facing.

Disney's choice of characters is also apt - the resolute Aladar, the mischievous Lemurs, the sly Raptors, the stubborn Kron, all communicate their respective personality traits clearly, and younger audiences will have no trouble distinguishing between the good guys and the bad guys.

A mention must also be made here about the animation, which is simply outstanding - Disney's production team worked for four years to bring "Dinosaur" to the screen, with a total of 3.2 million computer hours spent. While the characters are computer-generated, the Disney team has also combined computer wizardry with live-action footage to add to the realism of the film. A perfect example of this technology is the stunning opening sequence, in which the dinosaur egg which is Aladar is transported from its nest to the Lemur island.

If you have children, I'd recommend that you take them to watch this film - the combination of huge dinosaurs and a child-friendly story will have them hooked within minutes!

This article was first published on 25 Oct 2000.