The planet lost one of its greatest musical geniuses when the brilliant and prolific singer/songwriter (Harry) Nilsson died 26 years ago at the age of 52.
Even today, many of his songs, including the original composition “Without You” and his cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” (featured in the Oscar-winning movie “Midnight Cowboy”), are still part of our consciousness, heard in TV commercials, on the radio, and regularly coming out of the speakers of your favorite brick and mortar dining or shopping establishment.
Of all the years of Nilsson’s more than 20-year recording career, 1971 was an especially good one. His “Nilsson Schmilsson” album yielded the aforementioned number one hit single “Without You”. Preceding that record was the full-length release “The Point!”, a kind of 20th century fable created by Nilsson consisting of seven original songs (including the wonderful “Me and My Arrow”) augmented by narration telling the story of round-headed boy Oblio the only citizen in Pointed Village without a point on top of his head. Even Oblio’s dog Arrow (get it?) has pointed ears, a pointed tail and snout.
Custom-made for animated adaptation, “The Point” (MVDvisual), making its debut on Blu-ray to mark its 50thanniversary, was directed by Academy Award-winning animator Fred Wolf (who also worked on “The Flintstones” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, as well as Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be… You and Me”). The original telecasts featured different narrators, including Dustin Hoffman and Alan Thicke. Ringo Starr, the narrator of the home video and subsequent Blu-ray edition, is another example of Nilsson’s relationship with the Beatles (his 1974 album “Pussy Cats” was produced by John Lennon and included Starr as a guest musician).
Presented as a father (also voiced by Starr) reading a bedtime story to his son, “The Point” tells the story of Oblio (voiced by Mike Lookinland of “The Brady Bunch” fame), a boy who became an “involuntary instant celebrity” for being born with a round head. His mother made him a pointed cap, but Oblio still stood out in a place where conformity was the rule. When the village’s powerful and cruel Count (voiced by Lennie Weinrib) learns that his bully son has had a run-in with Oblio, it leads to a public tribunal and Oblio’s banishment (along with Arrow) to the Pointless Forest. While there, to the songs of Nilsson, he encounters a variety of characters (including a Rock Man voiced by Bill Martin, who tells Oblio, “You don’t have to have a point to have a point”) and situations, as well as empowering messages including “everyone has a point whether it shows or not” and “what’s in your head is more important than what’s on it.”
Nilsson probably didn’t realize the effect that “The Point” would have on a generation of gay boys coming of age in the early 1970s (shortly after the Stonewall riots), but it’s fair to say that it was probably profound. A story about being an outsider, not fitting in, certainly spoke to young queer kids watching it on TV, alone or with their families. Much has changed since “The Point” first aired but its impact has not diminished. The Peter Max-inspired visuals are also a hoot.
Blu-ray special features include a new 2K High Def transfer from 16mm film presented in the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround & 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, new featurettes (“The Kid's Got a Point" - a Mike Lookinland interview, "That Old Guy Wrote The Point" - interview with screenwriter Norm Lenzer, and "Everybody's Got a Point: Kiefo Nilsson and Bobby Halvorson on Adapting the Point") and a collectible mini-poster.
Click here to see our weekly Screen Savor Movie reviews
-is the author of seven books including the 2019 chapbooks, Sunshine State (NightBallet Press) and More Poems About Buildings and Food (Souvenir Spoon Books). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.