Disney Pixar’s new movie, Soul, was released on December 24, 2020. It is a celebration of black culture and the true meaning of life directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, an African-American journalist-turned-screenwriter who has spoken about making the Black characters and community authentic.
This new Pixar film features the first black lead voice through Jamie Foxx, who plays Joe Gardner a music teacher from Queens who is waiting for his first big break as a jazz musician. This is the first time a Pixar film is told through the lens of African-American voices. The movie Soul takes place in New York city but right before Joe is able to fulfill his dream, he suffers a mishap and is taken to the afterlife. Since he becomes reluctant to go, he goes on a journey to the “Great Before”, where souls are given their personalities and interests before heading to earth. While in the “Great Before” he meets a whimsical soul named 22 who refuses to go to earth. Together they embark on a journey to get Joe back to earth. This unusual animated film tackles questions that we may often ask ourselves : “Why do I exist?”, “What’s my purpose in life”, which is very rare for an animated Pixar movie.
Finally getting its first black lead character Pixar is paving ways for more representation among younger children who can identify their features with characters. Pixar worked hard in order to deliver an authentic depiction of black culture particularly through a scene in a barbershop, a place where appearances and behaviors were depicting as it does in real life. This movie was a collaboration between many people in order to accurately depict conversations and gestures. Hopefully more projects like these arise in the future to expand Pixar’s collection.
It’s incredible attention to detail of depicting New York’s jazz scene and Jon Batiste’s providing of original jazz music that makes the movie pleasant to the ears. The truly gorgeous animation that Pixar gave us, particularly in its depiction of New York and Joe’s daily life, a fair amount of great music, and a lot of philosophical ideas that leave the audience to ponder as well as the different kinds of characters throughout makes this a great movie. Soul offers food for thought and has heart therefore deserves a 9/10 and I would recommend it to everyone.