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Nilsson, Harry: The Point (Ultimate Edition) (Blu-ray)

First shown on television in the US in 1971, The Point is an animated film based on a story and album written and performed by Harry Nilsson. The album itself was the first by the hugely talented songwriter and remarkable singer to crack the top 30, climbing as high as number 25 as the man behind the story both sung the songs and narrated the fable of a boy named Oblio. Born in the village of The Point, where everything from the houses and trees to the top of everyone’s head came to a sharp point, Oblio finds himself as the only person ‘without a point’ and after upsetting the son of the village’s evil Count, is banished for being, well, pointless.

Directed and animated by the Academy Award Winning Fred Wolf (Free To Be… You & Me, The Flintstones), the intentionally roughly drawn film is very much of its time, or maybe even a throwback to the decade before it was created. With hindsight the core of the story, which is framed through a succession of ‘far out’ encounters Oblio has with characters such as rock men, talking trees and pointy bees, is in many ways hugely dated. However, the message of acceptance, self belief and embracing ours and others differences is possibly never more poignant than it is now. Although the manner in which it is portrayed here, while clearly aimed at kids, feels just a little too blatant to hit home in 2020 in the way that it seems to have for youngsters who first saw it back in the early seventies.

Originally narrated on film by Nilsson’s friend Dustin Hoffman for a one-off, one showing fee, for subsequent runs on TV first Alan Barzman and then Alan Thicke took on the role. However, for the Home Video version it was Nilsson’s long term friend and Beatles legend Ringo Starr who took us through the story, both as overarching narrator and as a father who is reading the story of Oblio to his own son. Interestingly, with hindsight, Ringo doesn’t quite know whether to simply go with his own Liverpudlian accent or slightly Americanise it, with the results landing somewhere in between, but once you get over that aspect it’s easy to settle in to what is a rather obvious, if still somewhat charming journey.

For anyone who knows The Point album, there’s already no doubt that the music within the film is as memorable as you’d expect from an iconic artist about to enter, arguably, his purple patch. Everything from “Think About Your Troubles” and “Life Line” to “Are You Sleeping?” and the widely recognised “Me And My Arrow” hitting the mark as they highlight the magnificent vocals from the man himself.

Billed here as the Ultimate Edition, this Blu-ray also contains numerous bonus features, which together are longer than The Point itself. The main event is Nilsson On Screen, a talking heads documentary focusing on the songwriter’s lengthy relationship with film and soundtracks, which proves an interesting exercise. With new interviews with Mike Lookinland (Oblio and also a member of The Brady Bunch), screenwriter Norm Lenzer, and Harry’s son Kiefo Nilsson and Bobby Halvorson, who adapted The Point for some recent ‘Nilsson sings Nilsson’ shows, all different aspects of this era of Nilsson are well covered, and that’s without counting the previously available, four part The Making Of The Point featurette. Coming with a neat fold out poster of the Blu-ray’s cover art, the film itself, which still looks and feels just a touch grainy, comes as a new 2K High Definition transfer presented in its original (apparently widescreen friendly) ratio. Add it all together and it feels like there aren’t many stones left to upturn when it comes to this animated feature film.

Reading comments elsewhere, those who saw The Point on TV when it was first broadcast, seem to have been strongly affected by its look, feel and message. While for (ever so slightly) younger viewers like myself, it’s been the music and the man behind it that’s drawn me to this release. In truth, as is to be expected for something nearly 50 years old, The Point feels understandably dated and yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a huge amount to like, learn and be impressed with as we discover just exactly what is The Point.

Track Listing
Me And My Arrow
Everything's Got 'Em
Poli High
Think About Your Troubles
Life Line
P.O.V. Waltz
Are You Sleeping?

Bonus Materials
•    Brand new 2K High Definition transfer presented in its original aspect ratio
•    Optional English Subtitles
•    NEW! 'The Kid's Got a Point: An Interview with Mike Lookinland'
•    NEW! 'That Old Guy Wrote The Point': A Conversation with Screenwriter Norm Lenzer
•    NEW! 'Everybody's Got a Point: Kiefo Nilsson and Bobby Halvorson on Adapting the Point'
•    The Making of The Point: Four part featurette includes: 'Who Is Harry Nilsson?' , 'Pitching The Point' , 'Making The Point' and 'Legacy of the Point' (SD, 26:40)
•    Collectible Mini-Poster

Added: February 15th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Point at Wienerworld
Hits: 127
Language: english

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