Soul: A Film to Remember
Growing up as a child in a family of Pixar fans, their recent movie Soul seemed like a no-brainer to watch together. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting too much out of the movie. Pixar movies always consist of important, but somewhat cliche, messages for children. For example, “be yourself” and the value of family are abundant and crucial lessons that are taught to kids through these beloved and classic films. I assumed that whatever theme Soul had to offer, it would be a revisit of something I already learned as a little girl. To my pleasant surprise, I was left extremely touched and slightly stunned by a movie I thought was manufactured mostly for kids entertainment.
The movie’s main character is a passionate man named Joe. He is a middle school band teacher who wants nothing more than to perform and work with music. When he finally lands the gig of his dreams to perform with his jazz idol, Dorothea Williams, he’s ecstatic. Unfortunately, during his overexcited phone call celebrating his new job down the streets of New York City, he falls down a manhole and arrives on a conveyor belt leading to “The Great Beyond”, which is meant to represent the afterlife. Understandably, Joe is in denial that it’s his time to go, as he finally achieved his dreams. He winds up running away from the Great Beyond and ends up in the Great Before. A place for new souls to find their spark and their passion that will motivate them to live a happy life when they eventually live as a human on Earth. Joe meets number 22, a new soul who can’t find out what will drive her to live. A wild adventure begins with Joe and 22 and two main goals are set. Joe wants to get back home in order to live the life he finally feels is starting, and 22 is scared and convinced that living isn’t for her because she doesn’t know her spark.
The theme of this movie that most stood out to me is the lesson that while passion and goals are important, taking time to enjoy life is what makes people happy. The film shows scenes of those who have been so wrapped up in their ambition and work that they no longer spend time enjoying their life. The anxiety and craving to gain more and more can sometimes disconnect people from the beauty, excitement, and thrill to being alive. A character shared a quote that I believe will stick to me for the rest of my life:
A fish swims up to an 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 young fish, “this is water, what I want is the ocean.”
The seemingly innocent quote actually holds a lot of value. Joe was waiting for a certain event to happen in order for his life to truly “begin.” What he had to realize was that his life started the second he was born. The experiences, people, and lessons he’s picked up along his journey are priceless and he got so fixed on particular achievements that he convinced himself that he needed to obtain his desire to be happy, and that wasn’t true. Motivation, goals, and passion are absolutely wonderful, but without taking time to feel the cool wind on your skin, admire the stunning color of the autumn leaves, and smile, you’re hindering the full extent of life. Living a happy life is about appreciating the little things that make the passage of life precious.
Number 22, the soul who couldn’t quite find her spark, also learned a valuable lesson while on the adventure. She didn’t need to have a set in stone passion or goal in life. Living was always going to be an ever-changing adventure. The will to live comes from something inside of you, and is not based on one singular aspiration. She realized that she would have a literal lifetime of experiences to find out what she wanted to do with her life, and didn’t need to prioritize knowledge of what she might want to do over the simple will to relish every second of being on Earth.
I applaud Soul’s ability to teach lessons we all needed to hear while keeping the movie witty and entertaining. In a twist of events, my eleven year old brother was left more confused with a Disney film than I was when it came to the final takeaway. As we get older, we start to let go of the simple moments on the playground and we focus on what we want to achieve in life. In a society so competitive to reach the top of the pyramid, it’s important to remember that the motivation to keep moving forward is not something tangible, it’s a perseverance you have in yourself. It’s also a fresh reminder to, quite frankly, live your life to the fullest and don’t prevent yourself from being happy because you haven’t quite reached your dream. Turns out, children are actually better at living this message and appreciating the tiny moments of being alive than teenagers and adults. Letting your passions and goals be assisted by stopping to breathe and laugh for a second is something I hope we all do for the rest of our lives. I can confidently say that I recommend Soul completely.