Pixar's Soul: Everything You Need to Know
Whenever animation powerhouse Pixar releases a new film, it's an event. When that film is an original property and not a sequel or spin-off, then it's even more exciting. In 2020 we get not one but two original Pixar productions!
SOUL is the second original Pixar film of the year and one that we are feverishly anticipating. Read on to find out why you should be just as pumped as we are.
Soul's Release Date
SOUL comes to theatres on November 20.
Pixar Goes Cosmic
[Image credit: Pixar / Walt Disney Studios]
"What would you want to be known for on earth?" This is what Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) asks in the opening moments of the trailer, and it's a question that surges through SOUL. Joe is a middle school music teacher who dreams of playing jazz professionally in New York City. On the eve of his big break, however, he falls down a manhole.
Joe's soul is separated from his body, and he winds up at the You Seminar, where souls are shaped before being transported to human babies. That's where he meets 22 (Tina Fey), a soul that has been trapped at the seminar for years. Together they go on a cosmic voyage. This being a Pixar film, they're sure to learn something about themselves and the universe along the way. Based on the trailer and the small number of concept images released from the film, it feels like this could be Pixar's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, a film that pushes artistic boundaries and narrative conventions, going to the outer reaches of the cosmos to find out what ultimately makes us human.
A Master Behind the Wheel
SOUL is the latest endeavor from Pete Docter, who last made INSIDE OUT, and also now acts as the head of Pixar. (SOUL is co-directed by Kemp Powers, who also contributed to the screenplay). At the D23 Expo in August 2019, Docter joked that he was "directing a film about the ultimate questions."
"Who would be crazy enough to do that?" he asked the audience of thousands, before landing the perfect punchline: "We're calling it SOUL." In a recent interview, Docter said that the idea came from one of his children; as soon as they were born, he could tell that they had personalities and interest. But where did that stuff come from? The question drives the movie. Docter is one of Pixar's major talents, and he regularly grapples with big, heady ideas. That makes his movies feel uniquely important — and emotionally powerful.
One big new aspect of SOUL is the music. For this film, Pixar is going in a different direction than usual. Rather than using a familiar talent like Randy Newman (the TOY STORY and MONSTERS INC films) or Michael Giacchino (UP, COCO, INSIDE OUT), the studio turned to three very different composers.
For the jazz instrumentals, the movie features new music by Jon Batiste, who many will know as the bandleader and musical director for "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." For the rest of the score, Docter turned to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, of the industrial band Nine Inch Nails. They've contributed scores to films like David Fincher's THE SOCIAL NETWORK (for which they won an Oscar) and Trey Edward Shults' recent domestic drama WAVES. None of these artists have ever contributed to a Pixar film before; for Reznor and Ross, SOUL seems well out of their wheelhouse, which is exciting.
Judging from the trailer and storyline, SOUL is very deeply indebted to music (in much the same way COCO was) and we cannot wait to hear what these artists cook up to accompany Joe and 22's journey.
While we might be getting two Pixar originals in 2020 (remember, ONWARD is out in March), SOUL will be the last Pixar feature until the summer of 2021. Then we'll get to see an as-yet-unannounced project. In other words: it'll be a while.
So savor SOUL, especially since it's unclear when (or if) Pete Docter will direct another feature film. As the chief creative officer of Pixar, it'll be his job to usher in a new group of talented animators and storytellers and oversee projects currently in development. That doesn't leave a ton of time to make his own films. But he does know that he wants to be known for making exceptional, unforgettable animated films that connect with us on deep, emotional levels. Hopefully, he'll continue to do that.
Pixar's SOUL is in movie theatres November 20!
All images courtesy of Disney / Pixar.