A Soul’s Purpose


By Victoria Sananikone, Editor In Chief

Photos from Google

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Disney Pixar films never fail to entertain audiences of all ages. One would think that each animation is meant for kids, but they all have sprinkles of compelling elements here and there that appeal to adults. Up portrays the bittersweet concept of growing old with the love of your life. Brave focuses on the relationship between a mother and her daughter. The Incredibles juggles different dynamics of family. Pixar’s most recent release is called Soul, a film that had many of its viewers in tears from its beautiful message.

Soul is praised for the integration of POC, with our main character being a black man named Joe Gardner (played by Jamie Foxx). Set in the heart of New York, Joe is a passionate jazz musician with dreams of making his big break at a jazz club. This high school music teacher is finally invited to play with a renowned jazz band led by a feisty black woman named Dorothea Williams (played by Angela Bassett) who is a master saxophone player. Joe’s spirits are higher than ever; he struts through the streets of Manhattan having achieved his purpose in life… Until he falls into a pothole and dies. Yeah, my jaw dropped to the floor too. How morbid of you, Pixar.

Joe dreams of making it big in the jazz industry

Joe finds himself plopped into the Great Beyond, where the souls who have passed away enter into the bright light. He’s taken the form of a blue blob-like character still clad in his top hat and square glasses. Refusing to accept his death, Joe escapes into the Great Before known as the You Seminar, a land of blue and pastel pink and purple hues. Hundreds of other little blue blobs are scattered throughout the Great Beyond— baby souls who are assigned their own personality traits. In order to get to earth, a baby soul must find their inspiration called a spark, something that Joe believes is one’s purpose in life. Joe forms a plan to get back to his body on earth by helping a baby soul named 22 (played by Tina Fey) find her spark.

Joe in his blue-blob form

I have one word for Soul’s animation: gorgeous. I need a skincare routine from each character PRONTO. Everything is incredibly smooth and crisp as if the world was molded from clay. The animators went all out with the features, adding beads of sweat to the characters’ faces and detailing every strand of hair. This intertwined perfectly with the writers who created a fast-paced story with hilarious wit and thoughtful dialogue. They also ventured into the deep, abstract questions about life.

22 is a stubborn, bratty soul who doesn’t see the point in living. When she finds herself navigating throughout the earth with Joe, 22 experiences the seemingly insignificant simplicities of life that are what make living so beautiful. She marvels at the delicious taste of pizza. She laughs while feeling gusts of air billow throughout her clothes as she lays on a sidewalk-grate. She finds joy in the skills of a musician in the subway. She becomes mesmerized by the way in which the sunlight glints through tree branches and as a leaf flutters down into the palm of her hand. These simple joys are what fulfill 22’s spark.

The stubborn soul, 22

Joe realizes that a spark does not come from finding one’s purpose in life; no one has one single purpose in life. Your spark is fulfilled when you are ready to live. This realization comes after Joe returns to his body and accomplishes his dream of playing with Dorothea’s jazz band. Afterward, he is confused when he doesn’t feel some type of revelation for achieving what he believed to be his purpose in life.

“I heard a story about a fish,” Dorothea tells Joe. “He swims up to this older fish and says, ‘I’m trying to find this thing called the ocean.’ “The ocean?’ says the older fish. ‘That’s what you’re in right now.’ ‘This?’ says the young fish. ‘This is water. What I want is the ocean.’

A message that I took away from Soul is that life is what you make of it. You don’t have to live your life fighting to make it meaningful. Life is simply for living, taking your time, and enjoying the little things. We all have the power to shape who we become.