One day, a shower of flying rocks impacts near the Great Valley and causes a rock slide in the Mysterious Beyond, which blocks the water supply of the Great Valley. The increasing lack of water causes conflicts between the inhabitants of the Great Valley, who have lived in relative peace and harmony until this event.
When the inter-species situation becomes worse and worse, Littlefoot and the others set out to find water to keep the peace in the Great Valley. They are pursued by Hyp, a Hypsilophodon; Mutt, a Muttaburrasaurus; and Nod, a Nodosaurus, a trio of teenage dinosaurs who constantly bully Littlefoot and his friends. When Littlefoot and the others find a small lake, the trio emerges and claims the waterhole for themselves, demanding that Littlefoot and the others keep silent about their discovery. Unwilling to comply, Littlefoot and the others flee from the bullies. During the pursuit, the bullies are chased away by a wasp, and the children discover the reason behind the blockage of the Great Valley's water source.
Before they can return and tell the other Valley inhabitants the truth, lightning strikes a tree and ignites a wildfire that spreads rapidly throughout the dried Valley. The dinosaurs barely make it to safety at the edge of the Mysterious Beyond. When the children tell the adults of their discovery, disagreements about what to do erupts among the adults, preventing them from doing anything to utilize this knowledge. Hyp, Nod, and Mutt set out into the Mysterious Beyond on their own to get to the water first.
Anticipating the danger, Hyp and his cohorts have gotten into recognizing commonality with them, Littlefoot and the others follow to help if necessary. It becomes so when Hyp jumps into a tar pit; after mistaking it for water. Littlefoot and the others pull him out of the tar. Soon afterwards, the adults appear in search of their children, and are finally united by the understanding that it was the unity of their children that helped them find water. It is implied during the discussion that Hyp's own experience of harsh treatment by his father is the cause of his harshness toward others.
Before they are able to take further steps, the herd is attacked by a pack of four Velociraptor. The pursuit leads to a dam of boulders created by the rock slide that has blocked the Valley's water supply. As the Sharpteeth and the adults battle, the children, including Hyp and his cronies, work together to break the dam. They all watch as the freed water washes away the Sharpteeth, though they manage to survive and land on the opposite bank.
The herd returns to the Valley, which now has enough water for them, though the fire has destroyed most of the plant life. Working together, the dinosaurs wait for the plants to regrow, feeding on the remainder proportionately by moving from one verdant area to another and sharing everything they find. This pattern results in the event being called "The Time of the Great Giving".Scott McAfee as Littlefoot
Candace Hutson as Cera
Heather Hogan as Ducky
Jeff Bennett as Petrie / Mutt / Iguanodon
Rob Paulsen as Spike / Kosh
Whit Hertford as Hyp
Scott Menville as Nod
Kenneth Mars as Grandpa Longneck
Linda Gary as Grandma Longneck / Mother Quetzalcoatlus
Nicholas Guest as Hyp's Father
Tress MacNeille as Stegosaurus / Spike & Ducky's Mother / Petrie's Mother
John Ingle as Narrator / Cera's father
Frank Welker as Velociraptor
The songs are written by Michelle Brourman and Amanda McBroom."When You're Big" - Hyp, Mutt, and Nod (Whitby Hertford, Jeff Bennett, and Scott Menville)
"Standing Tough" - Topsy (John Ingle)
"Kids Like Us" - Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky and Petrie (Scott McAfee, Candace Hutson, Heather Hogan and Jeff Bennett)
"If We Hold on Together" (instrumental)
In a brief Entertainment Weekly review, Michael Sauter criticized some modernisms in the dialogue but said that, "Littlefoot and his friends still retain their youthful charm." In August 2014, the New York Post ranked each of the 13 Land Before Time films released up to that point and placed The Time of the Great Giving at number 2, noting the "genuinely terrifying" velociraptors.
In his 2002 book Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek cited a song from this movie, "When You're Big," as an example of "hegemonic liberal multiculturalist ideology." Quoting the song's lyrics, Zizek wrote, "The same message is repeated again and again: we are all different — some of us are big, some are small; some know how to fight, others know how to flee — but we should learn to live with these differences, to perceive them as something which makes our lives richer." Zizek notes the inconsistency of this vision in the fact that the dinosaurs prey on each other, and have other irreconcilable differences: "The problem, of course, is: how far do we go? It takes all sorts - does that mean nice and brutal, poor and rich, victims and torturers? The reference to the dinosaur kingdom is especially ambiguous here, with its brutal character of animal species devouring each other - is this also one of the things that 'need to be done to make our life fun'? The very inner inconsistency of this vision of the prelapsarian 'land before time' thus bears witness to how the message of collaboration-in-differences is ideology at its purest."
The original VHS release contained a sneak preview of The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists (1996) prior to the film, which is a music video for the song "It Takes All Sorts".December 15, 1995 (VHS and laserdisc)
May 13, 1997 (VHS and laserdisc - The Land Before Time Collection)
December 1, 1998 (VHS and laserdisc, the last laserdisc release - Universal Family Features)
December 4, 2001 (VHS)
December 10, 2002 (DVD)
December 2, 2003 (VHS and DVD - 4 Movie Dino Pack (Volume 1) and 9 Movie Dino Pack)
September 27, 2005 (DVD - 2 Dino-Mite Movies)