Release Date(s)1971 (February 18, 2020)
Studio(s)Murakami-Wolf Productions/Nilsson House Music Inc./Macmillan Films (MVD Rewind Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: C+
- Extras Grade: B+
Airing on ABC in February of 1971, The Point is an animated TV special unlike any other. In fact, it was the first of its kind. Based upon the music album of the same name by artist Harry Nilsson, it tells the story of a kingdom of people with points, literally pointed heads. Not only that, but everything in their world is pointy, from their houses to their food. When young Oblio (Mike Lookinland) is born into this world, he arrives with a round head instead and is later banished from the kingdom for having “no point.” During his journey with his faithful dog Arrow at his side, he meets a random assortment of kooky characters, including the Point Man and the Rock Man, discovering along the way that everyone and everything, indeed, has a point, eventually making his way back home and earning his way back into the kingdom.
Beloved for decades, The Point was a popular childhood favorite for many people over forty as it continued to air in places like the original Disney Channel—long before it became a home primarily for Disney product. Interestingly enough, the original version of the film that ran on ABC has not been seen since its original airing. Dustin Hoffman was hired to voice the narrator, but with the provision that his version air only once. Since then, the film has been voiced by others, including Alan Barzman, Alan Thicke, and for the most common and widely-seen version, Ringo Starr. Sadly, seeing it with the original narration will likely never happen, unless somebody backs a truck full of money up to Dustin Hoffman’s house, which let’s face it, is not a distinct possibility.
Today, The Point is more of a laid-back time capsule with excellent Beatles-esque music, instantly reminding one of the animated Yellow Submarine film. At a mere 76 minutes, it gets through its story rather quickly, which based upon a music album that was a little over 30 minutes in length, is certainly more drawn out than one might realize. Oblio’s realization about all people and things having a point, which comes armed with a double meaning, is still pertinent. Unfortunately, the idea of someone being different and everyone standing by and doing nothing while they are ostracized is also still relevant. It’s why the film has legs, despite its dated qualities. It’s not a poorly-animated film by any means, but it certainly has a vintage quality. It’s worth noting that the same animation style was used for the famous “How Many Licks?” campaign for Tootsie Roll Pops. The film’s director, Fred Wolf, also went on to produce a number of successful animated TV shows, including the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The MVD Rewind Collection presents The Point on Blu-ray with a new 2K transfer from a 16mm film print in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1. According to the transfer notes on the rear artwork, the whereabouts of the original camera negative are unknown at this time. As such, the presentation is spotty, but organic. It’s loaded with obvious flaws, including multiple scratches, frequent speckling, and lines running through the frame almost continuously. Because it’s print-sourced, it’s also softer than a presentation taken from an interpositive or camera negative. Still, it doesn’t appear washed out as colors are rather vibrant, and everything appears in focus with clear screen direction. Blacks aren’t all that deep but the film appears bright without being blown out. Cosmetically, it’s rough, but it’s the best that there is to offer for the time being.
The audio is presented in English 5.0 and 2.0 mono Dolby Digital with optional subtitles in English SDH. The artificial stereo track is the only way to go on this release as the 5.0 track is out of phase, sounding more like an echo chamber than a surround experience. It’s a very poor upmix, to say least, and should be ignored altogether. The 2.0 track offers fine fidelity for dialogue, music, and sound effects. There’s nothing about it that lends itself to a stereo experience, but it’s solid nonetheless, even in lossy form. Hiss is minor throughout, though there are dropouts during fades in between scenes, which were designed for commercial breaks.
The following extras are also included:
- Nilsson on Screen (HD – 1:01:13)
- Jan & Dean Claymation Animation Sequence (HD – 2:52)
- The Kid’s Got a Point: An Interview with Mike Lookinland (HD – 17:14)
- That Old Guy Wrote The Point: A Conversation with Screenwriter Norm Lenzer (HD – 15:01)
- Everybody’s Got a Point: Kiefo Nilsson and Bobby Halvorson on Adapting The Point (HD – 15:51)
- Who is Harry Nilsson? (SD – 3:52)
- Pitching The Point (SD – 3:37)
- Making The Point (SD – 13:08)
- Legacy of The Point (SD – 6:04)
- The Point Trailer (SD – 2:13)
- Getting Even With Dad Trailer (SD – 2:42)
- Savannah Smiles Trailer (SD – 2:55)
All of the new bonus material dives deep into Harry Nilsson’s career, but also goes over the making of the film with a fine-toothed comb. The inclusion of Jan & Dean, which inspired the film, is a definite plus. Many subjects are interviewed throughout including Nilsson’s biographer Alyn Shipton, but also his friends, colleagues, and even his offspring. The vintage materials also cover a lot of the same territory, but speak to a number of other people, including the film’s director, Fred Wolf. Rounding things out are a set of trailers, including one for the film itself. In addition, this package contains a mini-poster recreation of the cover art as well.
For fans of The Point, old and new, this is certainly a welcome package. Keep in mind that the presentation isn’t perfect, but with a bevy of fine bonus materials to back it up, it’s certainly worth the purchase as it’s still entirely watchable.
– Tim Salmons