"The Point"


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I said I'd write something about this, so here it is...

And in case you don't know what I'm talking about...

I first saw this movie when I was about 7 and loved it. These were my impressions of it as a kid (though I wouldn't have used quite these words then) and having seen it again recently:

  • "Point" of course has a double meaning: point meaning "purpose", and a physical point. The main conceit of the story is people who lack the latter are assumed to lack the former too. (Most young kids would get that quite quickly, and it's nice that they get the chance to work it out for themselves - without having the joke ruined by "explanation".)
  • The pointed people are an easy-going lot. They have no malice against Oblio, despite his having "no point". But they are passive and easily swayed by the Count's arguments. (How like reality!) Even when he is being banished, they give him a cheerful sending off.
  • Although he is sad to begin with, Oblio soon becomes excited about what might lay ahead. It's always good to have an eye to the future, rather than to dwell endlessly on what you have lost. (Or think you have lost.)
  • To be honest, the middle of the story - Oblio's adventures in the forest - didn't do anything for as a kid, and don't do a lot for me now. It is enjoyable enough - nice accompaniment for Harry Nilsson's music - but none of these sequences stayed in my mind particularly after my first viewing. Certainly lot of the references went over my head - for example much of what the "tree-man" says would be meaningless to a child.
  • Oblio comes full-circle and returns to the pointed village. Why this happens is never explained, but as a kid it seemed natural. It's the classic heroic cycle - the hero leaves and returns - stronger than before because of his experiences. It's what we are pre-programmed to expect. (Maybe Jung would make something of that!)
  • The people come out in cheering crowds to greet him, but again their change of heart is barely hinted at. Oblio is now (for some reason) a hero. If I'd written the story I'd have added some justification for this, but perhaps it has an intentional point (har! har!) which I'm missing.
  • The Count is angry, but no one listens to him now, and the king tells him to be quiet. Oblio explains that everything in the forest had a point, so therefore he must have one too. (Does this logic hold up?)
  • The Count snatches Oblio's cap and discovers he now does have a point on his head. (As a kid, I'd assumed that he had worn the pointed cap so long that his head had worn itself into that shape. Watching it now, I don't think that's the case. Either way, it's a metaphor for the fact that Oblio now knows he has a purpose.)
  • Everyone else loses their point, but none of them care anymore. They understand now that everyone has a purpose, whether they have a "point" or not.
  • Oblio puts his cap back on. I puzzled much as a kid why he did this. Why did he not want to show everyone that he does now have a point? I suppose the cap is just a part of who he is, and it's the way we've grown used to seeing him. We want to leave him that way.

Just a couple of other "points": Ringo Starr does the narration, but originally it was Dustin Hoffman. I found a version with Dustin Hoffman's narration here:

Much as I like Dustin Hoffman, Ringo is WAY better, don't you think? Hoffman doesn't get the emphasis right. I read somewhere that the reason Ringo's version was recorded at all is because Hoffman stipulated that his recording could only be used for ONE SHOWING ONLY.

I mean, what is the "point" of that??

Now before some comedian asks me what the "point" of this post is, let me tell you. As a 7-year old, I couldn't believe the kid in the frame story had a TV in his bedroom!!!

Lucky swine!!!


Edited by Jamie123
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