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labors the point

The Point!

The Point! is a fable by American songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson about a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in The Pointed Village, where by law everyone and everything had to have a point.

"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

There have been, so far, at least three different renditions of The Point!, each featuring songs written by Nilsson to accompany the story. There has been an animated film, an album, and a musical play.

The animated film

The film version of The Point! first aired February 2, 1971, at 7:30pm on the ABC television network as a "movie of the week." The film was directed by Fred Wolf and produced by Murakami-Wolf Films in association with Nilsson House Music. In this version, there is a framing device of a father telling his son the fable as a bedtime story. 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. The voice of the son, and of Oblio, was provided by Mike Lookinland, an actor best known as young Bobby Brady on the television series The Brady Bunch.

The album

The Nilsson album called The Point! features the same songs as the film, and the same basic fable. However, the framing device of the father and son is discarded, and Nilsson himself tells the story directly to the listener, providing all the characters' voices as well as the narration.

A comic storyboard was included with the vinyl album when it was first released, enabling the listener to be more engaged in the story. Though Oblio has had to wear a cap to conceal his "pointless" condition, towards the end of the storyboard, his cap is removed, revealing a point on top of his head, and that the points of others in The Land of Point disappeared, implying that those who shunned Oblio are now pointless.

Track listing

All music and lyrics by Harry Nilsson

  1. "Everything's got 'em" – 2:25
  2. The town (narration) – 1:31
  3. "Me and my arrow" – 2:04
  4. The game (narration) – 1:49
  5. "Poli high" – 2:41
  6. The trial & banishment (narration) – 2:11
  7. "Think about your troubles" – 2:49
  8. The pointed man (narration) – 2:42
  9. "Life line" – 2:21
  10. The birds (narration) – 1:58
  11. "P.O.V. Waltz" – 2:12
  12. The clearing in the woods (narration) – 1:53
  13. "Are you sleeping?" – 2:17
  14. Oblio's return (narration) – 3:08

The musical play

In 1975, Esquire Jauchem, Artistic Director of The Boston Repertory Theater, approached Harry Nilsson about creating a stage musical of "The Point!" Although Nilsson said he had been asked many times and had always turned down the request, this time he granted his permission. Esquire Jauchem adapted and directed the production which starred 18 year old David Morse (who went on to star in St. Elsewhere, Indian Runner, Hack, The Crossing Guard, Green Mile, 18 Blocks, Disturbia) as Oblio.

The production was extremely successful with the press and the Boston audience. Harry Nilsson, along with his wife Una, attended the opening and wore a sign to the party following the performance which read "I loved it!". The show also received positive reviews from critics:

"Extraordinarily attractive...joyous and imaginative songs" -Eliot Norton, Boston Herald-American

"Fantasy comes to life ....and it's a very different production, using techniques and devices you don't see on stage every day" - Associated Press

The same production later toured to the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence where it was again extremely well received by audiences and the critics.

In 1977, a stage adaptation of The Point! was presented at the Mermaid Theatre in London. Featured in the cast were Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz, both former members of the band The Monkees and long-time friends of Nilsson. In order to accommodate the expansion of The Point! to a full-length musical, other Nilsson songs from various points in his career were incorporated. An original cast album was released in the United Kingdom by MCA.

In 1991, Nilsson gave Esquire Jauchem permission to present his adaptation of The Point! in a Hollywood workshop. It was nominated as musical of the year and once again it received very good reviews:

"Imaginatively adapted...blends broad acting, balloon characters, Bunraku style puppetry, fog effects, strobe lighting and choreography by former Martha Graham troupe member Janet Eilber" - Time

"A well rounded POINT....the multilayered odyssey, with its jazz riffs and dreamy musical segues, satiric references to censorship, lawyers and politics, succeeds as an allegory....Nilsson's fabulous, quirkly songs" - L.A. Times

London Credits

Directed by Colin Bennett
Original Adaptation by Ron Pember and Bernard Miles
Designed by Peter Whiteman
Lighting by Peter Sutton
Choreography by Gillian Gregory
Musical Director Mike McNaught

Track listing, original cast recording

All titles written by Harry Nilsson, except "Thursday" (Nilsson, Danny Kortchmar)

  1. Overture - Orchestra
  2. "Everything's Got 'Em" - Company
  3. "Me and My Arrow" - Davy Jones
  4. "Poli High" - Company
  5. "Remember" - Veronica Clifford
  6. "To Be a King" - Noel Howlett and Company
  7. "He's Leaving Here This Morning (Bath)" - Micky Dolenz, Colin Bennett, Clovissa Newcombe
  8. "Think About Your Troubles" - Davy Jones and Company
  9. "Blanket For a Sail" - Davy Jones
  10. "Life Line" - Davy Jones
  11. "Thursday (Here's Why I Did Not Go To Work Today)" - Felix Rice
  12. "It's a Jungle Out There" - Micky Dolenz
  13. "P.O.V. Waltz" - Davy Jones and Company
  14. "Are You Sleeping?" - Davy Jones and Company
  15. "Gotta Get Up" - Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz
  16. Reprise Overture - Orchestra

Miscellanea

  • The chorus of the title track on Blackalicious' 2002 album Blazing Arrow uses a sample of the chorus of "Me And My Arrow" (from the 1971 album) as a centerpiece.
  • A cover of the song "Think about your troubles" was recorded by Belly for the album: Safe and Sound: A Benefit in Response to the Brookline Clinic Violence(1996).
  • The song "Me and my arrow" was used in television commercials in the United States promoting the Plymouth Arrow during the 1970s.
  • The board game "Balderdash" featured this movie on one of the trivia questions. Players were given the name of the movie and had to guess what is was about.
  • Actor Michael Cera rates the point! as one of his top 5 all time favourite albums

References

External links

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