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On Christmas Day, Disney・Pixar debuted a hard-hitting animated movie Soul to Disney+. The thought-provoking film left audiences questioning ‘Who am I?’

Soul follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher that aspires to be a professional jazz musician. When he finally gets a long awaited music gig, Joe has a near-death experience. Transported outside the limits of reality, Joe is trapped in The Great Before, a realm where souls live before they are born. There he must partner with a headstrong, unborn soul 22 (Tina Fey) in order to return Joe’s soul to his body on Earth. Joe contemplates his life choices as he tries to encourage 22 that life is worth living.

Pixar presents a difficult topic for a young audience to understand in the movie’s attempt to answer life’s most challenging questions. What happens before we are born? What happens to a soul after people pass away? What is my reason for living? 

As Joe stands on the literal edge of life and death, the film reminds viewers of what makes life worth living. Our family. Our friends. Our passions. And our opportunity to succeed. People’s reasons for living are unique to everyone and changes as our life progresses.

Soul stood out to be a visually breathtaking movie. The large city with crowded streets, busy subways, and looming skyscrapers added depth to the film. Following Joe and 22’s adventure on the streets of New York City, it opens the possibility for Pixar to show off its technical animation style. The animation’s textures and lighting gave vivid imagery of the sights, sounds, and smells of the city.

Soul debuted as the first Pixar film to feature a Black lead. However, once again in animated movies, black and brown characters are not scripted to stay in their body the entire movie. This is a movie trope that Disney has used before. In 2009, Disney released their first Black princess film, The Princess and the Frog. It was apparent that although the scenery and side characters were Black, the lead characters were doomed to remain frogs for the majority of the film. Soul completes this trope as Joe is transformed into a blue blob within the first 10 minutes and stays in the form for a large portion of the movie. Audiences deserve to have representation on the big screen without the main characters being transformed into another being. 

Streaming Jan. 22 on Disney+ Soul lovers can experience the continuation of Joe’s story in a new animated short entitled “Soul of the City.”  The short was released as part of Pixar Popcorn: a collection of mini shorts starring iconic Pixar characters from movies like Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles, Coco and Finding Nemo.

In a time where life moves slower because of the pandemic, people are not experiencing life to the fullest extent. Soul encourages viewers to take time to appreciate what and who they have in their life. 


Ryanne Howard

Hampton U '23

Ryanne Howard is a junior at Hampton University. She is a Strategic Communications major with a minor in Leadership Studies from Raleigh, North Carolina. At Hampton University she is a member of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute as well as the Student Recruitment Team. Ryanne aspires to be a Public Relations Manager for a major company in the golfing industry.
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