The Point is a bizarro animated ABC Movie of the Week that was based on a story by the singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson, who also supplied the songs. It came out in 1971, which was during Nilsson’s most commercially successful period. This when he’d made the absolutely fantastic Nilsson Schmilsson album, which has some of most famous songs, like “Gotta Get Up,” “Coconut,” “Jump in the Fire” and “Without You.” He also had a big hit with a cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which was then used quite famously in Midnight Cowboy. He did actually wrote another song for that film, “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City,” which ended up being rejected in favour of the cover.
The background for the movie was a very silly story Nilsson that came up, and it is as “60s” as it could possibly be. Nilsson had this to say: “I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to points. I thought, ‘Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn’t, then there’s no point to it’.”
The film is about a fantasy world, “The Land of the Point,” where a person called Oublio is the only one who doesn’t have a point on their head. Oblio wins in a game of triangle toss against the son of the evil Count who runs the town, and is banished to “The Pointless Forest,” There he goes on a strange adventure, accompanied by a lot of Harry Nilsson songs and his dog Arrow. It’s all wrapped around with a framing device of a father telling his on; a bedtime story. There have been different narrators on various broadcasts of the film, starting with Dustin Hoffman—who was paid $20,000 for the version broadcast on ABC.
This version is narrated by Ringo Starr, who ended up doing a lot of voiceovers later on. Starr was also one of Nilsson’s drinking buddies for many years. Nilsson’s friendship with the Beatles went back to the ‘60s, when Nilsson was cited as their favourite musician in 1968. His friendship with John Lennon was so strong that after Lennon’s murder, Nilsson basically retired to become an gun control campaigner.
It has a trippy animation style, but not really super-stylish or high-budget—not up to the standards of Yellow Submarine, say. It was directed by Fred Wolf, who worked mainly on The Flintstones and later Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Duck Tales.
There’s been a nice restoration job done and this 2K high-definition transfer gives you the film looking as good as it could ever look. Extras include an hour-long documentary with Nilsson biographer Alyn Shipton and others who do a breakdown of all the singer-songwriter’s work in cinema, from Skidoo to The Fisher King. There are also various interviews with cast and crew members, and with Nilsson’s son; archival making-of featurettes about The Point (including one with Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, who starred in a stage version of The Point), and a reproduction film poster. So, you get this very nice package—though you could make a case that the extras are better than the film.