Unburying ‘The Point’: A Review Of The 70’s Animated Musical

by Rachel Bellwoar

Before Peter Falk read The Princess Bride to an initially apathetic Fred Savage, a father was telling the story of Oblio to his son in the TV movie, The Point. With music by Harry Nilsson and animation by Fred Wolf, The Point aired in 1971 as part of ABC’s Movie of the Week program (and was the only animated feature ever to do so).

The story starts out similar to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. In the Pointed Village, everyone’s head is triangle shaped, but Oblio (The Brady Bunch’s Mike Lookinland) is born with a round head and has to wear a cone hat to fit in. While that appeases most of the town, there’s always someone who can’t let the matter rest and, in The Point, that person is the Count (Lennie Weinrib). Eventually he succeeds at getting Oblio banished and the boy, along with his dog, Arrow, move to the Pointless Forest.
Unlike Rudolph’s red nose, Oblio’s round head isn’t a secret and while most of the other reindeer in Rudolph were bullies, that’s not the problem with the people from the Pointed Village. Rather their fault lies in not questioning the way things are and whether they believe in the rules they’re willing to follow. In Rudolph it’s easy to dismiss the other reindeer but Norm Lenzer’s screenplay drops in on their conversations. The people of the Pointed Village may be not be evil, but their apathy has consequences.
The first half of The Point includes many of the film’s most popular songs, like “Me and My Arrow” and “Everybody’s Got ‘Em.” As uncomplicated as these songs are, they’re catchy and easy to learn, with a lot of repeating lyrics. They also continue the story and tie in with the animation.
Think About Your Troubles” is the standout in the second half. There’s something unrelenting and reassuring at the same time about that song, but the film becomes more abstract after Oblio reaches the Pointless Forest. While the backdrops look like children’s drawing brought to life, the songs are less integral to the plot and the animation during them can be frightening and difficult to make sense of, with images that feel less geared for kids.
MVD’s Blu-Ray release includes new interviews with Lenzer and Lookinland (who doesn’t remember a lot about the production but holds The Point up as the project he’s most proud to have been a part of). “Nilsson On Screen,” is a documentary on Nilsson’s film projects. The speakers, like Nilsson biographer, Alyn Shipton, couldn’t be more knowledgeable, but It’s a shame that the film couldn’t have used more clips from the songs and movies being discussed, because it means they have to be described verbally. TV movie expert, Amanda Reyes, goes over the history of the film’s narrators (Ringo Starr is the narrator on this release), and Tim Buckner has some great stories about directing the never completed film, Harry & Ringo’s Night Out. Except for “Making the Point,” most of the featurettes focus on Nilsson (“Pitching The Point” tells an especially wild tale about how he got ABC on board) and there could’ve been more said about Wolf, but The Point is a 70’s classic and available now on Blu-Ray from the MVD Rewind Collection.

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