The Point!

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I can’t imagine my childhood without The Point! (1971). In general the music of Harry Nilsson was very much a part of the soundtrack of my youth, but The Point! was truly beloved. The videocassette of The Point! was played so often that its box began to deteriorate from the constant wear and tear. The moral of The Point! is a simple one: be yourself. But this is conveyed with such whimsy and imagination that it captured my mind as a child and drew me into the uncanny world of the “pointless forest”.

The Point! began as a concept album by Nilsson that was subsequently adapted into an animated feature for television. The film, like the album, is wall to wall music. Nilsson’s signature voice and airy arrangements careen through the cartoon landscapes. Nilsson’s music is light and uplifting while his lyrics often disguise a certain fatalism or world weariness. It’s all together the perfect package for the lessons of life’s hardships for children.

The animation, sketchy watercolored images, look like some half finished fantasy. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Directed by Fred Wolf, The Point! is stylized much like his earlier film The Box (1967). The images of both The Box and The Point!, with their sparse compositions, invite the imagination of the viewer to collaborate with the cinematographic text. As one watches The Point! the music of Nilsson inspires the viewer to “fill-in” Wolf’s stylized animation and, within the mind’s eye, complete the visual tableau.

The Point! holds up today because of its narrative simplicity, its unique visual style and Nilsson’s magical songs. It has always bothered me that The Point! wasn’t ranked alongside the animated child’s entertainments of Disney, Don Bluth, or the Looney Tunes. Whether it is narrated by Ringo Starr or not, The Point! is a bonafide classic that all ages can and should enjoy.