On Christmas 2020, Disney-Pixar released Soul, a new movie starring Jamie Foxx as Pixar’s first-ever Black lead, as well as supporting actors Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey, and Angela Bassett. The movie quickly became a sensation as a result of its Black representation and provoking themes that touch on deep personal questions about life, death, and our souls.
The movie, which follows Black protagonist Joe Gardner in his journey to discover the meaning of his life, brings the audience out of everyday life and into beautifully-animated Pixar scenes of heaven and death, daring viewers to ponder the creation and existence of every individual’s unique soul. Soul then follows Joe back to Earth, where he learns to see his life in a new light, inspiring viewers to do the same.
Jamie Foxx’s casting in the role of Joe Gardner allows for a beautifully emotional range of acting that follows Joe through his complex and heartwarming character development, and underscores the theme of Black culture backing the film. From Joe’s love of jazz music to scenes at the local barbershop in his home of New York City, Pixar’s first Black-led movie portrayed successful representation of African American culture, appearances, and life.
However, Soul’s main central themes transcend worldly concepts such as skin color and focus on the internal thoughts and experiences of each individual human being. The movie dives into the aspects of life uncharted by science, such as our passions, the creation and duration of our souls beyond that of our bodies, disassociation, heaven, purpose, and the meaning of life. Alongside movies such as Inside Out and Onward, Soul appears to be part of a new generation of Pixar movies that leans away from silly entertainment and into lighthearted, comedic, emotional, inspiring stories that dive into some of life’s deeper and more probing questions and experiences.
Overall, the movie is a gorgeously-animated and provokingly-woven tale that can appeal to any audience and that provides morals everyone can apply to their own lives. It leaves viewers feeling inspired and touched. Soul dares viewers to answer the same question that is asked of Joe: What are you going to do with your life?
Soul is available on Disney+.