This 1971 made-for-television animated feature is back in a DVD release billed as the “definitive collector’s edition.” That’s not to say the film has been digitally restored – it could certainly use a vigorous high-tech scrubbing. And, quite frankly, it is not even the original version – that featured Dustin Hoffman as the narrator, but due to contractual difficulties he was later replaced on the soundtrack by Ringo Starr.
But that’s just nitpicking. “The Point” is a charming film that will delight those who remembered its initial TV broadcasts and, I hope, intrigue a new generation weaned on monotonous contemporary animation.
The film takes place in a kingdom where everything has a visible triangular point, and even the population boasts pointed skulls. But that’s disrupted when the round-headed boy Oblio is born. As Oblio grows into an adolescent, he gets on the bad side of The Count, the evil advisor to the benevolent (if inefficient) king. The Count forces the monarch to enact the law of the land, which prohibits residence by anyone lacking a point. Oblio and his faithful blue dog Arrow are banished to the Pointless Forest, where they learn valuable lessons about the true meaning of life.
“The Point” had its inspiration via Harry Nilsson, who created this work as an original fable and composed and sang the film’s pleasant light-pop score – “Me and My Arrow” and “Are You Sleeping?” are the best-known tunes from this mix. Oscar-winning animator Fred Wolf gave the film a “Yellow Submarine”-inspired vibe, with some rather striking presentations for such far-out characters as the zany three-headed Pointing Man and the too-cool Rock Man (complete with an appropriately stony set of teeth).
Yes, Nilsson’s music and Wolf’s animation will firmly root “The Point” in a distinctive time period. And, yes, the film’s casual pacing is fairly leisurely by today’s standards. But the film’s message about tolerance and self-affirmation should find an audience with today’s youngsters. Oblio’s ability to overcome the bullying and rejection of his pointy-headed community should inspire any kid who has to deal with mean-spirited peers, and the adventure of the boy and his dog to understand their place in the world should give home to children and adults that have difficulty with the concept of self-worth. As a result, “The Point” is a timeless work that is always welcome for repeated viewings.