How Soul Fits Pixar's Storytelling Tradition

By David Crow

Now that Pixar’s Soul is finally out now on Disney+, we look at the origin of the critically acclaimed project.

After several delays, the film about a jazz pianist learning where inspiration comes from is available to watch anytime.

With its premise about Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) going to the other side and seeing how souls are nurtured, it’s Pixar’s most ambitious film in years.

But that is not surprising given it's the latest from co-director Pete Docter.

Having been with Pixar since near the beginning, Docter has directed some of the studio’s most audacious fare, like Up.

As a movie which opens with the emotional gut punch of a lifelong love story told in 7 minutes, the movie begins by framing concepts like death and aging for the youngest viewers.

Docter’s next film as co-director was Inside Out, which gave a child’s emotions literal voice.

Through brightly colored sprites like Joy and Sadness, young Riley allowed families to discuss complicated things like depression and loneliness.

Soul continues the tradition in a film Docter co-wrote and directed with Kemp Powers.

Soul sees a frustrated musician face death after his big break and discover the Great Before.

It’s a place souls go to develop their personalities and inspirations before life on Earth.

It is clearly ambitious for a kids’ movie.

But it also visualizes ideas like finding your inspirations, but not letting them define your identity.

It also creates a scenario where Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross can provide the musical score, plus Jon Batiste doing the piano.

And getting Nine Inch Nails to do a Disney movie is pretty sweet!