Pixar has released a new image for its upcoming animated movie Soul. Directed by Pete Docter (Inside Out), the film follows Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher and jazz aficionado who gets a big break to play at a high-class jazz club. The problem is, Joe apparently dies before he can get there and finds himself newly arrived in the “You Seminar.” The core of the story is that Joe’s soul will get an opportunity to commune with a multitude of other souls that are awaiting a chance at consciousness.
Speaking to EW, Docter explained the challenges of animating a “soul” while being sensitive to how that depiction might affect people of various faiths. “We talked to a lot of folks that represented religious traditions and cultural traditions and [asked], ‘What do you think a soul is?’” says Docter, who now heads Pixar. “All of them said ‘vaporous’ and ‘ethereal’ and ‘non-physical.’ We were like, ‘Great! How do we do this?’ We’re used to toys, cars, things that are much more substantial and easily referenced. This was a huge challenge, but I gotta say, I think the team really put some cool stuff together that’s really indicative of those words but also relatable.”
Docter also said that the larger point of the movie is trying to understand why we choose what’s important to us when we only have a limited time here on Earth. The film is ““an exploration of, where should your focus be? What are the things that, at the end of the day, are really going to be the important things that you look back on and go, ‘I spent a worthy amount of my limited time on Earth worrying or focused on that’?” That may seem like pretty heavy stuff for an animated family film, but this is the same guy that did Inside Out, so I’m sure he’ll be able to handle it with a deft touch.
Check out the new Soul image below. The film features the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, and Daveed Diggs. Soul opens June 19, 2020.