Pixar’s Soul Will Follow A Jazz Musician After He Dies

Pixar has spent their entire filmography explore unique and unexplorable worlds. From the world of toys to the Land of the Dead, they have used animation as a way to transport audiences, and in their new movie Soul, they will be taking us to a world where…souls are created and given personalities before they are sent to humans on earth.

“Like Inside Out, we’re taking you to a world where no one’s ever been — well, for a long time,” producer Dana Murray told EW. But let’s back up a bit. While that’s the concept, let’s talk a bit about the characters. After all, without great characters, a lot of these movies would be toothless, wouldn’t they?

In Soul, we follow Joe Gardner, played by Jamie Foxx, a teacher and Jazz Musician who, according to writer and co-director Kemp Powers, “lived his whole life like he was meant to do this one thing [music] to the exclusion of pretty every other thing.”

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Joe gets the job of a lifetime…but before he can enjoy it, he dies and gets whisked off to You Seminar, that previously-mentioned place where souls are made. He also meets a soul named 22, who Docter describes as the “teenager with the attitude.” 22 is voiced by Tina Fey, and the movie follows her and Joe as they attempt to get his body back to Earth.

Needless to say, executing this vision is a difficult task.

“We talked to a lot of folks that represented religious traditions and cultural traditions and [asked], ‘What do you think a soul is?’” Pixar head and co-director Pete Docter told the outlet. “All of them said ‘vaporous’ and ‘ethereal’ and ‘non-physical.’ We were like, ‘Great! How do we do this?’ We’re used to toys, cars, things that are much more substantial and easily referenced. This was a huge challenge, but I gotta say, I think the team really put some cool stuff together that’s really indicative of those words but also relatable.”

As I mentioned before, the character Joe is someone who’s dedicated his life to music, and it’s something that is used as a metaphor for filmmaking and probably all creative endeavors.

Docter continued:

“I’ve been doing animation for 30 years. I love it, I can’t get enough of it, and then I also recognize this is not the end-all, be-all of everything…There are children and life experiences and food and all these other things in the world that you can’t say are less important than animation. I would maybe have said that at certain times in my life. [Soul is] an exploration of, where should your focus be? What are the things that, at the end of the day, are really going to be the important things that you look back on and go, ‘I spent a worthy amount of my limited time on Earth worrying or focused on that’?”

So, is this a film about work-life balance? Sounds like it is to me, and it’s hard not to see this as another Pixar film with themes that millions of kids simply will not get until they’re older, and I’m all for it.

Soul hits theaters on June 19, 2020.

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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