Blu-Ray Review: The Point

Aaron ConnBlu-Ray Review, Movies, MusicLeave a Comment

The Point Blu Ray

The Point Blu RaySinger/songwriter Harry Nilsson achieved critical and commercial success during the late 1960s and the early 1970s.  For a good period of time, Nilsson would write songs that were later covered by artists such as the Monkees and Three Dog Night. Even more than 25 years after Nilsson’s death, his work is still recognized for its excellence. Of the several dozen albums Nilsson recorded, The Point is an album that most have come back to. While originally released in December 1970, the album would gain more exposure thanks to an animated TV Movie that aired on ABC in 1971. Just recently, MVD have released the beloved story on the Blu-ray format for the first time. Jam packed with several new bonus features, this new Blu ray release of The Point is an impressive release.

The movie
Written by Harry Nilsson as a children’s fable, The Point tells the story of a boy named Oblio- who is born without a point on his head. Living in a land where everyone and everything has a point, Oblio grows up living his life as an outcast. Given that lacking a point is against the law, Oblio is banished from the land- with only his dog Arrow to accompany him. The two embark on a journey to the Pointless Forest- where Oblio not only learns about himself but also the lives of others.

The Point Oblio and ArrowNearly 50 years after its creation, The Point is still a charming and delightful animated tale. Even though Nilsson meant it to be for children, I think people of all ages can get something out of it. The topics of prejudice and racism are timeless- which makes something like The Point relevant to this day. The other thing that’s unique about The Point is due to the fact that it’s an animated movie. While many rock musicians have made it to the big screen, there’s only a handful that’ve worked in animation. The animation in The Point  is illustrated by Murakami Wolf Productions- who would later go on to do the animation in Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. Comparing the animation in The Point to something more popular like Yellow SubmarineThe Point‘s animation feels more like a cartoon- albeit in a surreal yet rugged fashion. With the music of Nilsson to accompanying the animation, this more or less is what makes The Point so special.

The Point father narrator

The father, who serves as the narrator of the story. For home video releases, he has been voiced by Ringo Starr.

For the home video releases of The Point, Ringo Starr has served as the narrator. When originally aired in 1971, actor Dustin Hoffman served as the narrator for its first airing- with Hoffman being a friend of Nilsson’s. In subsequent airings, the narration was done by Alan Barzmann and later Alan Thicke. For the Blu ray, the narrator is still Ringo. While I don’t mind Ringo narrating at all, I’m wondering why no one has thought to have every narrator on separate audio channels for these DVD and Blu ray releases.

If the movie had any downsides, it would be the pacing. While still a classic, the movie does drag out a bit during the later half. While meant for children, The Point might be on the slow side for children today. Compared to the fast-paced CGI animated movies from Pixar and Dreamworks, The Point is more abstract and philosophically deeper.  While some children might be intrigued at first, they would probably lose interest fairly quickly.  Nevertheless, there’s no harm in showing this movie to younger audiences.

The new hi-def transfer
With the movie now on Blu ray, it has received a new 2K High Definition transfer- taken from the 16mm Film Elements. With this, the movie is shown in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The last time The Point was released on home video was in 2004 on DVD- which is still in print. When comparing the two formats, I was surprised to see that the color on the Blu ray looks more faded. I’m not sure what source was used for the DVD but in my opinion, the color looks better on the DVD. For me, the oranges look especially faded on the Blu ray.

The Point DVD vs Blu Ray example 1

DVD (left) and Blu ray (right)- The main titles

The Point DVD vs Blu Ray example 1

DVD (left) and Blu ray (right)- The Pointed Man

However, the picture on the DVD is cropped. With the Blu ray, it shows the whole picture.

The Point DVD vs Blu Ray example 3

DVD (left) and Blu ray (right)- The town making points. Note right side of both pictures and you’ll see that the Blu ray shows the whole picture.

The Point DVD v Blu Ray example 4

DVD (left) and Blu ray (right)- Note the left side of the screens. On the Blu ray, it shows the whole picture as you can see the screen isn’t cropped at Arrow’s tail

So I can’t that this new transfer is perfect. Perhaps its because the 16mm is nearly 50 years old? Whatever the case is, the transfer isn’t bad at all.

Special features
The Blu ray comes with four new featurettes. They are as follows:
Harry Nilsson
The Kid’s Got a Point– A 17 minute interview with Mike Lookinland (The Brady Bunch), who provided the voice of Oblio in the movie. This is a great and insightful interview- with Lookinland providing insight as to what life was like being a child star.

Nilsson on Screen– An hour long feature about Harry Nilsson’s contributions to movies and TV shows. While all the interviews seem to be new, this feature is a little disappointing as it doesn’t show any footage from the movies and shows in question. This is possibly due to the fact that showing any footage would be costly. So without it, it’s simply a one hour video of talking heads. Still, it isn’t bad at all: I did learn a few things, including the projects Nilsson never completed.

Kiefo Nilsson Bobby Halvorson

Harry Nilsson’s son Kiefo (left) and Bobby Halvorson (right)

That Old Guy Wrote The Point– A 15 minute interview with screenwriter Norm Lenzer. In the interview, Lenzer tells some stories about working with Harry and as to how he came to write the script.

Everybody’s Got A Point– A 15 minute interview with Harry’s son Kiefo Nilsson, along with Bobby Halvorson. Like his father before him, Kiefo is a musician. In the interview, Kiefo goes through the songs in The Point and about how he has performed his father’s music over the last few years.  Hearing from Kiefo is great and he shows a lot of passion for his father’s music.

There’s also an animated claymation short on here that inspired the movie, along with the 2004 DVD’s lone special feature “The Making of the Point”- a 26 minute feature that seems to take from interviews filmed for the Who Is Harry Nilsson documentary.

Overall Thoughts
Despite its flaws, The Point Blu ray is a strong release from MVD. While the hi def transfer might not be perfect, this Blu ray release will give Nilsson fans a complete Point experience: not only do you have the movie but it also comes jam-packed with nearly 2 hours of bonus features. If you ask me, this Blu ray release certainly has a point.

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Aaron ConnBlu-Ray Review: The Point