Pixar is recognized for its high-quality animation and meaningful themes. Of course, not every Pixar work is philosophical, but meaning appeals to both adults and children. It also helps us form our vision of the world.
So when Pixar revealed Soul, fans waited impatiently. And for a good reason—the finished product confirms the legendary Pixar Formula’s potency. Soul puts the meaning of life into an adventure with Pixar polish, but there’s a twist: this movie could be more suited for adults than kids.
Pixar loves to explore complex topics, and Soul takes it a step further.
Hard-hitting concepts are nothing new in animation. Fans of Coco will recall that the general subject of family and its value was interwoven with the notion of death and the afterlife. And Soul took it a step further—the film’s central focus is on life.
The film shows two opposing perspectives on life.
What does it mean to be alive? Why do we sometimes struggle to find pleasure in our work? Finally, the film wonders, “Is all this living truly worth dying for?” These are only a few of the movie’s questions. Two souls with opposing objectives struggle over what’s most essential. One protagonist aspires to return to his former life, while another wish never to have lived.
The Great Before, Joe Gardner, a music instructor (and adult!) who loves jazz, finally gets an audition to join a band after years of rejections (where all the souls yet to be born reside).
His counterpart is 22, a soul who refuses to return to Earth to live out her days because she has seen what is ahead. In search of 22’s spark, they set out to discover it.
The two characters disagree on what makes life worthwhile.
The movie’s central theme is the meaning of life, which is presented in two ways. Joe is a struggling musician with a purpose in mind, but obstacles along the road pull him down.
Despite their outward differences, they are both trapped in life. After a few mishaps, the pair is faced with new problems that test their preconceived notions.
Some wonder whether this is Pixar’s most mature and severe film yet.
The same factors that make this film great also make it appropriate for adults. As a youngster, you undoubtedly thought the world was yours to take. And as you get older, your thoughts and aspirations change. Soul investigates such topics, and their significance will be more meaningful to individuals who have lived in the actual world.
The movie also lacks the dramatic flair that many animated films have. There are no animals to confront, and even the supernatural entities are shown as conceived sketches (befitting their nature). The message is front and center, which is ideal for a film of this level.
“Is all this living worth dying for?” the film asks a theme that will appeal to adults more than youngsters.
Of course, Soul isn’t the first film to investigate the meaning of life. But for an animated picture to go into more profound subjects that usually go unnoticed by kids is groundbreaking. Every animated film has two sides, and classics like The Lion King have contrasting effects on adults and children.
That said, Soul seems to have tapped into the potential to develop an adult-oriented film with themes and concepts that mirror the struggle many of us have faced, of finding our place in the world and eventually settling the nagging question of whether living is worth dying for.
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