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The most underrated Pixar film: the case of Soul

Introduction:

I believe when I say that there is no chance that a reader of this blog is under 16 years old. Moreover, I think it's safe to assume that we have all grown with Pixar's animation films through the years.




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You can act cool and act like you were raised with the classics such as "Tarzan" and "Beauty and the Beast". Yeah, I have watched them as well but come on. If you did not rewatch any of the classics, which movies would you think made your childhood? That's exactly. Pixar (I assume).



Masterpieces such as the Toy Story franchise, Bug's life and Monsters Inc. will always be carved at the back of my skull because of their stunning animation at the time, beautiful voice acting and the post traumatic stress disorder they caused me due to scenes like the below:


Jesus Christ, animations back then were not afraid to terrify children.


However, nowadays, Pixar has realised that leaving children scarred is not the best thing to do, so they decided instead, to give them existential dread.



A premise that hits too close to home

Soul's premise follows the footsteps of 'Inside Out' and 'Coco' in terms of talking to children about things that will hit adults harder. Soul follow's Joe Gardner, a pianist in New York, who got this amazing opportunity to make his dream of playing jazz professionally a reality. However, the universe has other plans for him and he ends up dead.


I know what you are screaming right now.


"SPOILERS ASSHOLE".


Yeah, all of this, literally happens in like the first 10 minutes of the movie.


The movie focuses on things like the Afterlife. Not in a religious way. Well, kinda.




Anyway.


Soul follows some deep themes. And I am not talking 'Up' where we were showed the horribleness of death. The movie focuses on existentiality and soul-searching and is revolved around one single question that every single one of us has asked themselves:


What the fuck is my purpose?


And that's where the fun part begins. I am not going to spoil anything because I believe that this movie is a journey to follow, and not just a story. The life lessons from this movie will surely make you to at least question a bit of yourself and your existential status in the world, no matter how chill or good at life you think you have it.

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Spoiler Alert:

From this point on, if you have not watched Soul, please go watch it and then go through with the reading of this Blog. It's a shame to lose the experience this film has to offer, and I don't care if you forget to come back to this blog and read it.


Just knowing I have pushed another person to watch this piece of cinema art is enough for me.


A purpose to life:

The secret of life or the identification of the purpose of our existence is a topic that has been in the human mind over centuries and has been a subject of discussion for many philosophers and countless religions.


Why are we supposed to achieve in this life?

To be great?

To acquire a position in world history?

To just be happy?




What the hell does our soul require to be satisfied?


Nobody knows. And Soul realises that.


In Soul, the ultimate purpose of our protagonist is to play Jazz professionally. After a tour and an escape from the Afterlife (The Great Beyond as its called in the movie), Joe goes to the Great Before and finds how souls are prepared to find their body and light up their "spark". Through a number of Pixar shannenigans, Joe manages to go back to earth through the help of 22, a stubborn cute-ass soul that simply does not want to go to Earth.





Long story short, a mixup ended up with 22 in Joe's body and Joe in a cat's body. From there, we see something magical. 22, with the mind of a newborn, finds enjoyment in every little thing in life.


From enjoying food to getting a haircut, the satisfaction is everywhere. And that's it. Joe realizes that he was too busy thinking ahead and idolizing a utopian future where his life would magically get better once he accomplished his dream, that he forgot about the present.


And that is some deep shit man.


We live in an artificial society that manipulates you into thinking that everything is doing so much better than you. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that exists in today's society is just crazy.


Just look around.


Forbe's ranking millionaires under 30, Instagram Influencers always doing the most. People are constantly traveling to places you can't go, people are doing things you will never do and generally you are made to feel that you are incompetent.


But what the fuck does that even mean. As mentioned by Joe's barber, Dez

"Not everyone can be Charles Drew inventing blood transfusion"


And there is nothing fucking wrong with that.

We are told that greatness comes from money, discoveries, inventions, movies, fame, power.


But what the hell is wrong with cutting hair and making people happy?





Who defines what is great and what is not? At the end of the day, not everything goes according to plan. Frida Kahlo wanted to get into medicine but she ended up as one of the best painters alive.


The thing is, we all think that we have a purpose that we are destined to follow that will lead us into what is supposed to be our version of "greatness". But what if that plan changes? Are we not worthy of the very concept that determines one's self worth? Fuck no. We all deserve to be content and to be great in our own unique kind of way.


Do not be manipulated into thinking you are meaningless or that you do not matter due to other people's definition of success.


The little things:

During the time 22 is in Joe's body, we see the new found soul having a blast with the smallest little things including enjoying the small trips from one place to another and the food amongst other things that go unnoticed by the everyday "lifer".


Joe realizes that and we get one more internal message.


The quote "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey" is one of the most quoted quotes that have eveer been quoted. But in this case, instead of telling us like everyone does, Pixar shows us.


We have become so automated that we forget to be grateful about the things we get to do everyday in our continuous loop.


The food we eat, the people we meet, the conversations we have are privileges of our silly little existence.


And before you say something, I agree that some things are not great. Especially anything that has to do with people. But once again Pixar shows us instead of telling us.


In the barber shop scene we see someone criticizing Joe and his chasing of his dreams. This results into the below burn:



Moreover, bad things will surely happen. Life ain't a fairytale.


Goals will go to shit.


Dreams won't become a reality.


People will be assholes.


But at the end of the day this should not alienate the way we experience life as the we can be partly grateful and joyful for the small everyday things.

That's what holds here.

There is one quote that I read recently that states : "You don't live a happy life. You have happy moments".


So increase them. Slow down a bit and enjoy life a bit more. At the end of the day rich or poor, famous or not, CEO or not, we will all go to the same place.


Okay you did it. Now what?

One of the most important life lessons from the movie comes towards the end. Joe finally manages to get back to his body and reach in time to play at his gig.


And it is a magical moment. Everything goes perfect and Joe has slayed his performance.



His dream is achieved.

He made it

Now what?

There is no red curtain.

There is no freeze frame ending.


And it hits him. Life ain't a movie.

Achieving you dream does not guarantee ultimate happiness.

Achieving your dream does not equate to a "happy ending"


No matter what you do, life goes on.


During this Joe goes ahead and says:



and he gets the below response:

I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to this older fish and says, “I'm trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” says the older fish, “that's what you're in right now.” “This?” says the younger fish, “This is water. What I want is the ocean.”

The meanings behind this cryptic speech is up to interpretation but I will give you mine.


The young fish is us. We are constantly looking for the next big thing that we think is going to be the ultimate satisfaction of our existence.


When you go to school , it may be the summer.

When you are in university, it may be the post exams period.

When you are working, it may be your dream job. Et cetera, et cetera.


The point is, you're already in this world and you miss the present in the future. You are constantly waiting for this magical moment to arrive that you are loosing the fact that you're already in it.


Human consciousness is a weird thing and our battle with purpose is something even weirder. One can claim that we are constantly self-sabotaging ourselves because we are not where we are.


This is realized by Joe by the end of the film which closes with one of the most beautiful quotes I have seen in any film - live action or not.






Maybe at the end of the day we don't have a superior goal.

Maybe we are not meant to become something great.

And maybe there is nothing wrong with that.

And maybe enjoying the happy moments in this shitty life may be enough.


Conclusion:

To sum it up, I believe that Soul is a movie that must be talked and analysed a lot more. I comprehend the timing of its release may have stuttered the support or its acknowledgement but I believe it should be the other way around.


While a number of Pixar films have tried going down the rabithole of life with Inside Out and Luca, it is time to recognise how insane the difference is in comparison to Soul that challenges an issue that is still well developed in the majority of adults in today's society.


I firmly believe this movie challenged my views in life. Both positive and negative. And I think with more than one viewing more people can realize the amount of love that has went towards this film.


What do you think? How does Soul rank in your Pixar rankings?


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