(Disney / Pixar)
The Webb Schools

Review: The spark of Pixar’s ‘Soul’

What do most people care about in life these days?

My best guess is that they mostly revolve along the lines of “money”, “career” or “success.” I, too, have been pressured to think that the only way to a happy life is to test into a top university, which opens up opportunities for jobs that earn more money, and with financial freedom I can live a successful life.

However, the Pixar movie “Soul” gives me a gentle reminder that none of these qualities truly define success, nor does a life’s course need to follow a single “spark.” 

In fact, a spark does not need any extrinsically defined expectations to ignite; and it almost never adheres to strict, perfectly planned purposes. Just ask my flute teacher from last summer: the spark just wasn’t there. On the other hand, my spark for drawing, singing, and writing needs no audience, tutelage, or recognition, passion and patience are all it takes to have some good old fashioned fun.

That’s why I loved “Soul”! Through vibrant graphics, multi-faceted characters, and beautiful music, “Soul” delivers an engaging story with a heartwarming message that encourages the audience to live in the moment. 

In Disney Pixar’s “Soul” Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, left, and Tina Fey voices 22, right. (Disney / Pixar)

I enjoy each setting’s artistic design very much — no matter if it is the bustling New York City or the “soul” cosmic dimension, the movie captures key qualities about each location and brings it alive with vivid colors. For example, the ethereal “Great Before” features a light, cool-tone color palette, as the ground is made of various shades of blue and green while the sky is infused with brilliant purples.

The souls there have a light aqua color, but a creative detail about them is that their outlines are not distinct. Instead, each soul’s edge seems blurred and resembles spectrums of light, giving the characters a metaphysical and intangible feeling that suits the setting of  the “Great Before.” More creative concepts, such as lost souls trapped within bodies of gigantic monsters, also represent many situations in real life.

They perfectly embody people who are lost in a single obsession and excluding all the other aspects of life. In fact, I often find myself imprisoned in the desire to play video games and browse social media too, letting what is supposed to be a supplement of my life become its center. In “Soul”, the representation of people trapped in obsession reminds me to cherish every part of life and control them instead of letting desires control me. 

(Disney / Pixar)

Apart from the movie’s imaginative visuals and graphics, its inspiring message is an essential element that makes it such a great film. The main character, Joe Gardner, is a person that many can relate to; as a middle school band teacher passionate about music and piano, he had bigger dreams of performing professionally and demonstrating his talents on the stage.

One day, to his ecstasy, his friend provided him an opportunity to perform with Dorothea Williams, a renowned saxophone player. This is when he accidentally falls into the soul dimension, and spends the rest of the movie, sometimes arrogantly and selfishly, clawing his way back to Earth for his first professional music gig.

“[Without this gig], my life would be meaningless!” Gardner argues.

Yet, when he does make it on time to his dream performance, he realizes that he did not feel the emotions he expected to experience; instead, he felt almost empty inside because his life did not drastically change even after his dream performance. At last, he accepts the way his life unfolds, good or bad, special or ordinary, and concludes that the most important thing is to “live every minute of it.”

As a immature teenager stepping into the vast reality of society, I often find myself anxious about the future ahead, especially when many factors consistently urge me to achieve success and live a comfortable life. Although that is a goal in the future, “Soul” reminds me that it is important to stop and enjoy the view surrounding my journey, because a soul’s purpose in life is ultimately not about having a successful career or winning fame; it is about fulfilling and inspiring oneself through pieces of experience along the way.