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What Is Pixar’s ‘Soul’ All About?

Peter Docter is back at the helm for another animated adventure.
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By  · Published on June 20th, 2019

After spending recent years focusing predominantly on sequels under the Disney regime, Pixar is all about creating fresh animated adventures again going forward. This should come as good news for fans who’ve missed the studio’s golden years, which saw us treated to a host of innovative movies that didn’t seem to harbor franchise ambitions. While most of Pixar’s sequels have been entertaining and heartwarming, its rebirth is very exciting.

Things are moving in a fun direction as well. A few weeks ago, a trailer for Onward was released, and it looks utterly delightful. Well, it would appear that the studio is in the mood to get people talking once again, as it just surprised us with an unexpected announcement for a movie called Soul, which, like Onward, will hit theaters in 2020. 

Most of the details about Soul are being kept top secret for now. All we know is that the story will start in New York City before taking us on a cosmic journey to discover the answers to life’s most important questions. Furthermore, Pixar released a tagline which poses one of these questions: “Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams, and your interests come from? What is it that makes you… YOU?”

Of course, fans will also be thrilled to know that Pete Docter will helm the new adventure. Despite being creatively involved in most of the studio’s output in some capacity, he’s only directed three of its films — Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out — and they all rank up there with the best of them. Docter taking the reins is reason enough to be excited about this upcoming cosmic adventure.

Given Docter’s track record as a director, we can expect Soul to be original and unlike his previous work in many ways. At the same time, based on what we do know from the little info provided, the film sounds like it will retain some elements of Inside Out and Up.

Soul will explore the concept of individuality; the notion of the unique qualities that make a person who they are. Inside Out, which follows an 11-year-old girl dealing with the personified emotions of Joy, Disgust, Fear, Anger, and Sadness, is a moving story about recognizing the array of emotions that make us human. The movie doesn’t shy away from tackling their complexities either, and I don’t suspect Soul will be fluffy in that regard. That isn’t Docter’s style.

In Up, we follow a 78-year-old man who decides to go on an adventure to South America by tying thousands of balloons to his house. The film also tackled some profoundly human themes such as grief, isolation, growing old, friendship, and escaping our comfort zones. It’s the best children’s movie out there for tackling concepts that are even difficult to comprehend as an adult. Soul might exchange continental exploration for the cosmos, but the adventure will still serve as a vehicle to dig into more spiritual themes.

Still, while Docter and Pixar’s movie will be thematically similar to its predecessors, it will undoubtedly explore these concepts in fresh, bold, and imaginative ways. In that sense, it’s impossible to predict what’s in store until we’ve seen some footage or read a more detailed synopsis. When Pixar is in top form, their animated fare is wholly original, wondrous, moving, and untouchable. And with their best director commanding this adventure, don’t be surprised if Soul is another classic in the making.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.