Like a trip in a time machine, here’s a beautifully restored DVD of a cultural artifact that could only have been made in the 1970s. While it’s hard to believe such a trippy flick was made for children back in the day, even more amazing is the fact that this was originally shown on TV in 1971.
The Point was the brainchild of singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, probably best known for records like “Everybody’s Talkin” (from the film Midnight Cowboy) and “Without You.” This film began as an idea Nilsson had for a parable about a society in which everyone had a pointed head—a “point”—and what would happen when a child was born without a point?
Nilsson didn’t write the script; rather, he came to ABC with the idea (which he later said came to him during an acid trip), which was turned over to director Fred Wolf and writers Carole Beers and Norm Lenzer, who fleshed out the story fragment into a screenplay.
The tale, framed as a bedtime story read by a father (voice of Ringo Starr) to his son (voice of Mike Lookinland—yep, Bobby Brady!), concerns Oblio (also played by Lookinland), a boy who is the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village. Oblio wears a pointed hat to cover up his abnormality, but an evil Count banishes the little boy and sends him out into the lands beyond the village, with only his dog Arrow to keep him company.
That’s pretty harsh for a kids’ story, but this was 1971, a time when lots of movies and TV shows had dark tinges. So, the exiled Oblio has some adventures and meets some wacked-out characters. Along the way, he realizes that everything—even those things and creatures that aren’t pointed—has a point.
It’s a nice allegory for prejudice—not dissimilar in theme from Dr. Seuss’ “Sneeches” story—and if the point metaphor is run into the ground along the way, well … at least we get the point.
The film has a handful of charming songs written by Nilsson for the soundtrack and accompanying album, the most famous of which, “Me and My Arrow”, later became well-known from a car commercial.
And if the animation looks familiar, it should—director Wolf also made the classic Tootsie Pops commercial featuring Mr. Owl, and this film retains that spot’s simple, line-drawing based style. It looks like a series of kids drawings come to life.
The Point is nicely presented on this definitive DVD reissue. While this cult classic was released on VHS years ago, this superb remastering is crisp in picture and color, and the audio delivers Nilsson’s delightful music with full body and punch. It is presented in full-screen with the black bars on the sides; remember, this was made for 1971 television.
The disc also includes a short bio piece about Nilsson edited from the excellent documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?). Check that out on Netflix; it’s worth your time. There’s also an extensive recent interview with Wolf about the making of the film.
Is The Point dated? Sure. That’s part of its charm. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. But it’s fun in its zonked-out way, and it has a good message for children of all ages. And that’s the point.
Check out a clip from The Point here.Buy The Point: The Definitive Collector’s Edition DVD on Amazon