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Music

Harry Nilsson's LSD inspired film that starred Dustin Hoffman and Ringo Starr

Harry Nilsson isn’t just one of the greatest vocalists of all time, lending a soulful swagger to every note he ever came across, he also released an LSD inspired children’s cartoon, The Point!

Many people will be familiar with Nilsson’s 1970 album The Point! thanks to its buoying single ‘Me and My Arrow’ which has appeared to have stood the test of time more so than the story within the album as a whole. The album listened to in full, alternates between songs heard in the soundtrack of the film adaption and the sections in between the songs narrated by Nilsson that tell the wonderful story of The Point!

The endearing children’s animation was well received in the early 1970s as a story of poignant meaning and it stands as a fantastic lesson for not just children, but grown-ups as well. The colourful production is lined with the perfectly psychedelic music of Nilsson’s creation which interjects at intervals throughout the film aiding the flow of the narrative. The film tells the outsider fable of a young boy named Oblio, who is the only round-headed person in “Pointed Village,” a town where, by law, “everyone and everything must have a point!” 

The round-headed boy, Oblio, is banished from the village to the Pointless Forest for not conforming to the law of the community. Oblio’s loyal dog, named Arrow, was the only one to stick with him and accompanied him into the Pointless Forest. While in the forest, they meet an array of different characters and begin to learn that everything and everyone has a point after all; a purpose in life and a place in the world. Oblio and Arrow return to the Pointed Village and impart their newfound wisdom unto the villagers and explained to the angry mayor, “we went to the Pointless Forest and it’s not pointless at all” … “everything has a point, and I must have one too”.

As the vibrant, colourful and imaginative story might suggest, Nilsson acknowledged in an interview that a psychedelic experience inspired the idea: “I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realised that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to points. I thought, ‘Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn’t, then there’s no point to it.’”

He used this idea to initially create the concept for his 1970 album and began working on the storyline which he cleverly worked into an allegory that teaches the important lessons of tolerance and acceptance of people who are different. The deeper meaning that underpins the story reminds children and grown-ups alike that everyone in our world has an equal right to be here and an equal purpose in life. The story was a poignant statement that reflected Harry Nilsson’s political stance regarding the Civil Rights Movement.

The concept album was adapted into a number of different versions of the animated film which attracted some of Nilsson’s close friends to appear in the cast. Over the three versions, the story had narration collaborations from the likes of Ringo Starr, Dustin Hoffman and Mike Lookinland from the hit US television show The Brady Bunch. Nilsson later adapted The Point! into a musical stage play that starred his friends from The Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones.

Watch the full animated adaption of The Point! below.