I Saw a Film!
This one scared the hell out of me when it aired on television back in the day. It’s a kind of ham-fisted little animated story narrated by Ringo Star and featuring some Harry Nilsson tunes, one of which was used in a memorable car commercial years later. Harry Nilsson also apparently wrote the tale. I say the story was ham-fisted because it’s kind of a word play made physically apparent. The point is on everyone’s head. Everyone’s head comes to a literal point except little Oblio’s head. He has a nice normal head, just like we do. And so he’s pointless. I’m not sure how much dope you need to smoke to imagine this simple dual meaning of point to be imbued with all manner of philosophical depth, but I’m sure our acid-influenced production team reached it long before this project. Much of this style and story resembles The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (1968) in which a giant and violent floating glove is transformed into love by the simple removal of the letter G. And they used to laugh at Sun Ra for his silly word play! Of course, this was all popular at the time, even the name The Beatles was both play on beat and beetle and homage to the literary beats of the “beaten” generation. So OK, people were getting as much mileage out of punning as possible.
Back to the story. Oblio has to deal with some serious meanness from pointy kids, and some of it is directed at his innocent dog, named Arrow. I do recall that some of my first worry was for the dog, and not so much for the very smooth-talking Oblio–much smarter than his years–using perfect reason but getting railroaded by the scary pointy people anyway (can’t imagine anything resembling this in our society!). At any rate, this little boy and his super dog are banished to something called “the Pointless Forest”, where he undergoes a kind of Alice in Wonderland (such comparisons are inevitable) experience with a series of quite terrifyingly angular and toothy creatures who speak in maddening riddles and offer little help to a child. The acid trip aspect of the art and story get quite dark here, but it’s broken up by the clever songs, “Me and My Arrow” being the most memorable (anyone remember the Plymouth Arrow?).
The problem I always had with these types of inner exploration and discovery type stories (again no doubt inspired by the fantasy of tripping being something other than stressing out your nervous system) is that nothing has actually changed. Our protagonist is still just as helpless as he was to start with. Granted he had some great experiences he gets to lord over his village, but he’s still the same tiny kid with a dog who got no help from anyone, including his totally inert parents, who essential orphaned him. I can’t imagine anything being scarier to a kid, and my folks had me watching World At War when I was in Kindergarten, as it aired in syndication in the afternoon after school! Oblio makes out because the Mayor of Pointville has an inexplicable change of heart! Lucky!
This runs pro bono on Prime and it’s possible being scared is worthwhile, it gives us puzzles to overcome. Steep your kids in World At War. It’s good for us.