Soul

Joe and 22 fly to Earth together. (Photo Courtesy of CinemaBlend).

Joe and 22 fly to Earth together. (Photo Courtesy of CinemaBlend).

“Soul,” a comedic cartoon by Pixar Animation Studio, is one that is not easily forgettable. Following the life of aspiring jazz musician Joe Gardner, the movie takes viewers on a ride to discovering the true meaning of one’s purpose. The film tackles deep questions and queries about human existence on Earth. It’s a movie in which the lessons and plot linger for days- and even weeks after viewing. 

The film begins with Joe Gardner teaching a class of band students. The class lacks enthusiasm, and Joe seemingly wishes he was anywhere else but there. Under the stress of familial pressure, Joe pursued a mundane and conventional life as a teacher rather than working to obtain his dream of being a professional musician. However, his life takes a turn when he is asked to perform with the well-known jazz musician Dorothea Williams. 

Finally, Joe’s dreams of fame and recognition have come to light, and excitement overwhelms him. However, in his fit of joy, Joe stumbles into a manhole and ends up in a coma. Before long, he finds that his soul had transgressed into a new world called The Great Before. Here, Joe meets others who had been sent here, and he discovers that his life is about to end. Almost immediately, Joe becomes frenzied as he realizes that he would never get to fulfill his dreams. He tries desperately to escape until suddenly, he is thrust into a field filled with many new souls and mentors. Joe then meets 22, a soul who despises Earth and considers it nothing more than a dirty rock. 

Despite her hatred of Earth, she still decides to help Joe get back to his home after witnessing the dreariness of his life. Through their experiences and adventures together, Joe and 22 begin to realize the true meaning of their lives. Like most individuals in the real world, Joe lived his life plagued by the need to be successful and achieve his dreams. He fails to live his life to the fullest, and his realization is clearly demonstrated when he is contrasted to 22, who has never experienced all that Earth has to offer. Despite the movie being a cartoon, the theme was clear: no one is born with a purpose. 

Aside from the plot, the movie also utilizes lighting and angles to symbolize moments of realization/understanding. 22’s gradual progress towards acceptance is shown through the way it’s animated. In the scene where 22 catches a leaf that was blown off a tree, there is great emphasis on the tree’s bright colors and sunlight, as that scene symbolized her epiphany. She finally found something she enjoyed doing, and the animation reflected that. Like most quality films, the movie uses good lighting to represent happy moments and dark lighting to represent ominous moods. 

Similarly, “Soul” also utilizes a wide variety of colors to give insight into the scenes’ mood and tone. In The Great Before, the setting is composed of dark colors, as the pathway leads to the “afterlife”. Meanwhile, on Earth, more specifically New York City, there are bright colors everywhere- from taxis to colorful buildings. 

Another aspect of the movie comes in the form of music. Not only is Joe’s entire life made up of his love for the piano, but he also plays multiple songs throughout the film. Having a character with musical talent makes it easy to match the music to the mood of certain scenes. 

With the help of good animation, music choice, and color choice, it’s safe to say that “Soul” is truly a masterpiece. Today’s world is hectic and unyielding, yet there are still things to be enjoyed, even if it’s small and trivial. Sometimes letting go and enjoying what life has to offer is the only purpose that needs to be fulfilled.