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You don't have to have a point, to have a point.
February 6, 2010 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Once upon a time in the town of Point, everything - all the buildings, trees, and even the people were pointed. Except for one little round-headed kid named Oblio. "I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'" – Harry Nilsson"

"The Point!" is an animated movie, a play and an album created by Harry Nilsson. Harry's album version has him narrating Oblio's story, which many prefer to the film version.

It still inspires today with a cover album by indie artists and even a live half-puppet, half-human show version. There's even a band out of named in honor of the round-headed boy.

*Warning lots of links to Youtube.*
posted by ExitPursuedByBear (44 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sit beside the breakfast table
Think about your troubles
Pour yourself a cup of tea
And think about the bubbles

You can take your teardrops
And drop them in a teacup
Take them down to the riverside
And throw them over the side
To be swept up by a current
And taken to the ocean
To be eaten by some fishes
Who were eaten by some fishes
And swallowed by a whale
Who grew so old
He decomposed

He died and left his body
To the bottom of the ocean
Now evverybody knows
That when a body decomposes
The basic elements
Are given back to the ocean

And the sea does what it oughta
And soon there's salty water
(That's not too good for drinking)
'Cause it tastes just like a teardrop
(So they run it through a filter)
And it comes out from a faucet
(And is poured into a teapot)
Which is just about to bubble
Now think about your troubles


One of my favorite songs and definitely one of my favorite movies ever. Thanks for this!
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:37 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


A few months ago, my brother sent me a link to the puppet show by the Annex Theater you linked. We both grew up watching this and it made me realize how much cooler our parents were than we tend to give them credit for. It was a great trip back to a wonderful cartoon and I'm glad to see it get publicity - they're an amazing troupe.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The movie's always been a favorite, but with the birth of my last son, it created a deeper meaning for me. My youngest son is a special needs child and the part at the beginning where the parents keep reassuring themselves there's alot to be happy about with Oblio, it struck a nerve. It was as if some one had been transcribing my thoughts those first few months. Makes me want to protect Oblio from the pointed little world all that much more. :)
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 9:44 AM on February 6, 2010


Harry Nilsson was amazing. That's all. I have no other point.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:46 AM on February 6, 2010


This post has awakened lost memories. I didn't think I knew what this was, but the second I heard "Me and my arrow..." I was singing along. Wild. I must've heard or seen this as a kid somewhere (school? tv?) and it's just been sitting in my brain ever since, waiting for today. Thanks for the post!
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2010


Between Oblio and "Coconut", Nilsson was responsible for a lot of my childhood. Then I discovered just how many other songs that everybody's heard he wrote. It's amazing how ingrained in popular culture he is while still being largely unknown.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 9:59 AM on February 6, 2010


Radio Aahs used to play this from time to time. It was weird having narration and songs at the same time. It blew my mind
posted by wheelieman at 9:59 AM on February 6, 2010


"Me and My Arrow" is one of my favorite songs, and one that reminds me of so many of the pleasant things from my childhood. As a kid that movie meant the world to me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:02 AM on February 6, 2010


Long been one of my favorite films and favorite albums. I'm virtually certain that Dustin Hoffman narrated the film when it first came out, on TV, but the VHS tape I have of it is narrated by Ringo Starr. Perhaps because he was one of Nilsson's buddies?

"Me and my Arrow..."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:03 AM on February 6, 2010


Guy_Inamonkeysuit: I'm virtually certain that Dustin Hoffman narrated the film when it first came out, on TV, but the VHS tape I have of it is narrated by Ringo Starr.

I remembered Dustin, Ringo, and Harry narrating. This bit from wikipedia explains:

In its initial airing, the voice of the father was provided by Dustin Hoffman, but for contractual reasons later airings of the film could not use Hoffman's voice and it had to be re-recorded. The initial re-recording was done by actor Alan Barzman. The VHS and DVD releases feature Ringo Starr as the father. Another version, seen on cable television in the '80s and '90s, featured narration by Alan Thicke.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2010


I grew up with this on vinyl and seriously thought I was the only person who had ever heard of it. This was such a great story. Have been looking for the video for years.

One of my little-known talents is that I can recite the entire album (talk and songs) word for word. Haha.
posted by mnb64 at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2010


I definitely grew up on this movie, my mom used to watch it with me a lot when I was a kid. Same with my brother. When I saw the Baltimore Annex live version a few months ago, after meeting those folks when they were in Minneapolis, I showed it to my mom, and brother, and we all had a nice collective nostalgic moment. Nice to see it again.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 10:24 AM on February 6, 2010


Thank you so much for this post! My amazing parents bought me the tape when I was about five years old (along with Jesus Christ Superstar, you gotta love parents like that) and I'm sure that I can, along with some of the other people here, recite the entire film as well. I bought the DVD a few months ago since I don't still have the tape and so that I could show the movie to my boyfriend. He learned to love it as quickly as I did twenty-three years earlier.

A few years ago some friends of mine from grad school and one of our professors all had a thing for The Point and would take turns reciting the first three parts of the following quote from the movie made by the three-faced Pointless Man:

"Would you argue the point?"—"I wouldn't"—"Not on a bet."—"It never entered my mind!"

Obviously we recited the last part altogether.
posted by inconsequentialist at 10:31 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hadn't thought about this for years. I don't have time to watch it now, but thanks to this post refreshing my memory, my daughter will be getting the dvd for her next birthday.
posted by Dojie at 10:54 AM on February 6, 2010


We had the album for this when I was a kid, and I had almost completely forgotten about it up until a few years ago. In 2004 or so, after a long and thorough search, I finally found the soundtrack to the movie Skidoo (really, just so I could have a recording of the end credits -- that really is an epic conclusion to a ridiculous film) and discovered, much to my pleasant surprise, that it also included everything from The Point.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:54 AM on February 6, 2010


Whoa, had totally forgotten about The Point! Our entire school had to watch that, I guess as some sort of appreciate-diversity thing?
posted by argh at 11:12 AM on February 6, 2010


You can jump into the fire. But you will never be free.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blazing Arrow
posted by ageispolis at 11:40 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ageispolis, I was going to link that. That song was my introduction to the story. Thanks for this post!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:48 AM on February 6, 2010


I remember seeing the first broadcast of this as a child.

If I'm not mistaken, it was broadcast as an "ABC Movie of the Week". While ABC MotW was probably the originator of all subsequent made-for-TV movies, and while the source of a nearly endless supply of dreck, it was also the launch pad for such pop-cultural touchstones as "Duel", Stephen Speilberg's first film, "Brian's Song" with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, "Go Ask Alice", on the subject of drug abuse, and "The Night Stalker" which, if not for "A Christmas Story", would probably be actor Darren McGavin's main claim to fame.

It was an essential components of the 70's TV landscape, and probably worthy of an FPP itself, if one hasn't already been done.
posted by hwestiii at 11:51 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My own favorite Nilsson song is "Everybody's Talkin'" from the soundtrack of Midnight Cowboy. All of his songs have an earworm quality that's sweet, rather than irritating. Next time you get an earworm that's killing you, try listening to something by Nilsson.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2010


Neflix'd. Now why don't they have The Phantom Tollbooth?
posted by sourwookie at 12:16 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went on a huge The Point! kick last spring, and rediscovering it after 20-odd years was a real joy. Now why the devil can't we make culture like this anymore?
posted by valkyryn at 12:21 PM on February 6, 2010


Here is a complete version on google video - no youtube breaks!

I didn't see the movie until a year or so ago, having loved the album as a wee one when my folks got it out of the library IIRC, but not knowing of the animated version's existence. Somewhat criminally, it seemed to me at the time, the movie truncates "Me and my Arrow", so you don't get the bridgey bit. Not sure if the other songs are complete, as memory fails, but I'd absolutely recommend listening to Nilsson's narration from the album if you haven't already.

Great post, ExitPursuedByBear. I'd thought about linking to the movie when I saw it on GoogleVids, but you did a much better and more thorough job than I would have.
posted by Sparx at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This post has awakened lost memories. I didn't think I knew what this was, but the second I heard "Me and my arrow..." I was singing along. Wild. I must've heard or seen this as a kid somewhere

Or you remember the commercials for the Plymouth Arrow, which used the song.
posted by philip-random at 2:11 PM on February 6, 2010


My own favorite Nilsson song is "Everybody's Talkin'" from the soundtrack of Midnight Cowboy.

I always thought it was strange that Nilsson was such an accomplished songwriter, yet his biggest and most recognizable hit was a Fred Neil cover.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:32 PM on February 6, 2010


I always thought it was strange that Nilsson was such an accomplished songwriter, yet his biggest and most recognizable hit was a Fred Neil cover.

I don't know. I think that his biggest and most recognizable hit is One, covered by Three Dog Night. Which I think is equally strange.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:21 PM on February 6, 2010


Actually, his biggest most recognizable hit is Without You, written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, both of whom later killed themselves.
posted by philip-random at 3:24 PM on February 6, 2010


And (further morbid trivia) Keith Moon and Mama Cass (Elliot) both died in Harry Nilsson's home ... years apart, of course.
posted by philip-random at 3:25 PM on February 6, 2010


Oh, man. I had the album and loved it when I was a kid. I always wondered if the illustrations in the book were from a movie or not; now I can watch it. Finally. Thanks!

later tonight or tomorrow, because i'm in the middle of some stuff.
posted by egypturnash at 4:27 PM on February 6, 2010


My fourth grade teacher played this for us on a snowy lunch hour just before February break, to cap off our unit on prejudice and diversity. I was engrossed in it and the other kids just didn't care. At the close of the class, much to the bemusement of my classmates, I raised my hand and said "WHAT IS THAT and how can I find it?" Mrs. Ohanian put it on hold for me at the library that afternoon, and I picked it up the following day. It was the only album I could listen to for a solid week, and it led me into youthful Nilsson fanaticism.

My mother, a very circumspect sort who was scandalized by Lennon's lost weekend, was resistant to my interest in Nilsson, and would not allow me to listen to anything post-Schmilsson. (If memory serves, she had to listen to Schmilsson before I could.) All his albums were out of print in my childhood, and I ended up searching church bazaars and sketchy used record stores to strike gold.

Throughout my adolescence, I vowed that someday I would interview Harry. When the news broke in my sophomore year of high school that he died, I was heartbroken.

This music reminds me so much of being a young tween and feeling so out of touch with the culture, but it also reminded me then that there was something even better waiting out there for me.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:57 PM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite quote from the movie was, "We rock people are very heavy," but it doesn't show up on Google. Was I hallucinating?
posted by Bruce H. at 5:03 PM on February 6, 2010


My mom played this for me a lot when I was a kid, perhaps in an attempt to make me more of a hippie. Didn't work, but it was a fun little record.
posted by Xezlec at 6:45 PM on February 6, 2010


I can't tell you how thrilled I am! I've been wanting to see this again since I was a kid and could never find a copy of it anywhere (admittedly, I didn't look particularly hard). Thank you so much!
posted by h00py at 7:08 PM on February 6, 2010


I remember watching this as a kid and I knew something was funny with it; I didn't know about drugs at the time. This makes sense now.
posted by jellywerker at 7:16 PM on February 6, 2010


Woah, you posted a play that I was a part of, that's crazy. I was the puppeteer for Arrow's head. I live and work in the Annex Theatre [the group that put on this performance]. That's about all I have to say.
posted by cloeburner at 11:36 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad someone mentioned that it was Dustin Hoffman who did the narration in the original, because that completely synchs up with my memory of it. I like Ringo, but he's no Dustin, that's for sure. Loved seeing this movie again.
posted by h00py at 3:20 AM on February 7, 2010


A few years back The Boston Rock Opera did The Point for Boston's First Night. Not sure if there are any videos, but here's some photos.
posted by Gungho at 8:18 AM on February 7, 2010


How odd! I've been wondering for a while what this movie was. One of my classmates brought it to Kindergarten many years ago, and we watched it.

Also interesting (to me), there was a band called Sardina from Indiana in the 90s, and of course they had a song Me and My Arrow, that I liked and pondered over the meaning of. Listening to it, it surely must be somewhat derivative from the film! In fact, listening to the version hosted on that site, it directly mentions a boy from Point, so :]

two mysteries cleared up in one.
posted by rubah at 3:21 PM on February 7, 2010


I loooove The Point and can recite major chunks of it.

My aunt got me the album when I was 9, and I have continued to listen to it and turn others (children and adults) on to it for 37 years now. I thought the movie was pretty disappointing compared to reading the album comic and listening to Nilsson's narration.

Never made the drug connection, but it doesn't really change things for me either way.
posted by Calibandage at 6:36 PM on February 7, 2010


Harry Nilsson is the best reason to own ears.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:13 AM on February 8, 2010


Metafilter: goofin' with th' bees.
posted by cookie-k at 9:27 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Our family dog's name is Arrow, not by coincidence.

I just realized I've been sitting here all morning whistling The Moonbeam Song, and then I come along and discover this. Wonderful!
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on February 8, 2010


I watched the whole thing yesterday and today, and drew fan art. For a cartoon that came out the same year I was born. Somehow this makes me feel intensely geeky.
posted by egypturnash at 12:20 PM on February 8, 2010


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