Isabel Frei and Fiona Shuldiner, Grade 10, Staff Writers
Pixar’s Soul premiered at the London Film Festival on October 11, 2020, and was released on Disney+ on Christmas Day. Soul is an inspirational, moving, and humorous film whose complex animated characters cater to a diverse audience.
Joe Gardner, the protagonist, is a middle-aged, jazz-loving, aspiring musician turned band teacher struggling to make ends meet in New York City. Right before Joe accomplishes his lifelong goal to perform at a jazz club with renowned saxophone player Dorothea Williams, he dies. In the afterlife, he evades death and winds up in the Great Before, where he embarks on a journey and meets the Lost Soul, 22. 22 is preparing to go to Earth and is searching for a “spark” that will send her there.
Throughout the movie, Joe explores his passion for jazz music and the true meaning of life. He embarks on a metaphysical journey and learns that his purpose is more complex than he initially assumed. Soul uses the abstract concept of the afterlife to teach that the little things in life should not be taken for granted.
Soul has also broken racial barriers in the film industry. Joe Gardner is the first Black main character in a Pixar film, and Soul is the fourth American animated film to feature a Black character as the lead. “To me, Joe represents a lot of people who are not being seen right now,” said Jamie Foxx, the actor who voices Joe. “Joe is in all of us, regardless of color. To be the first Black lead in a Pixar film feels like a blessing, especially during this time when we all could use some extra love and light.”
Soul also had a diverse crew behind the scenes. Kemp Powers, a co-director of Soul said, “When someone told me I was Pixar’s first Black director, I said that can not be right. Pete [Doctor, a co-director] said — and my hope is — this is an indicator of changes that are going to be pretty rapid.” Hopefully, Soul is just the beginning of racial progress within the film industry.
Soul is an uplifting movie with heartwarming characters that leaves the viewer with a new outlook on and appreciation for life. It is worth the watch.