Soul: A Mature Take On The Beauty of Life

Armando J Gimenez ’22 

The movie Soul was first announced on the 19th of June 2019 as Pixar’s 23rd Film. People waited in anticipation for the first Disney/Pixar movie to explore and encapsulate Black Culture, just as they had done for Coco and Moana. The expectations for Soul were high before the time of its premier, but many remained cautious. Sadly, Soul would not receive the deep exploration of culture as its predecessors. Despite its inability to reach the high expectations of its audience, Soul remained an excellent piece of art. Soul instead took the opportunity to discuss mature and philosophical inquiries. If you have not seen Soul, I highly suggest you watch it with open arms and a clear understanding that Soul will challenge your expectations and make you ponder. In this brief discussion of Soul’s message and themes, spoilers will not be withdrawn, so proceed as you wish. 

In this movie, we follow the death and afterlife of Joe Gardner. Joe has waited his whole life to play the piano, but just as gets that chance, he dies and finds himself in the great beyond. Through wacky hyjinx and circumstances, Joe has to teach a mischievous soul her spark, so she and him can go to Earth. Due to it being a Pixar movie, the writers go out of their way to avoid clear representations of Death and the afterlife in an attempt to not confuse the children. Soul’s maturness is shown in its complex themes of life, death, and the purpose of living. Joe has to show Number 22, the unborn soul, the reasons why life is worth living, due to her adamant refusal of living and criticism of living in general. Number 22 plays the role of the devil’s advocate for Joe and his continuous attempts to convince Number 22. As the two come to explore everything Earth has to offer, 22 stays unconvinced, feeling that everything she needs is available to her without the suffering of mortality. Out of desperateness, Joe resorts to unorthodox means in order to return to his body. Through Joe’s impatience, 22 ends up taking control over his body. 

As 22 lives a day in Joe’s shoes, Joe discovers that he has not truly lived his life either. By the end of the story, Joe discovers that his ambition and desire to play the piano blinded him from the real wonders of life, the simple things. By the end of the story, Joe accomplishes his lifelong dream, but feels unsatisfied by his achievement. This complex message of life and its values appear very mature for the audience it appealed to. This message would have little to no impact on younger viewers who have not experienced much of life yet. The themes in which it attempts to present are extremely complex and difficult to capture, along with this, the movie does not present it clearly enough to impact the audience significantly. Despite the thematic mishaps of the film, it still maintains its quality through the classic Disney writing and beautiful animation, but the movie truly comes to shine in its audio department.  In this movie you can tell the composer went all or nothing for the soundtrack. The soundtrack only is compacted with beautiful melodies that truly touch the audience. Every score conveys their associated scene perfectly. Everything audible about the movie pleases the ears. Sometimes you just want to close your eyes and let the music take you on a journey through life. Overall I would rate Soul an eight out of ten for its fantastic soundtrack and visuals, but it failed to meet its own expectations and themes. A wonderful ride worth watching, recommend.