In the two-time Oscar-winning Pixar director’s latest film, a jazz musician’s misstep puts him on a fantastical path to discovering what it really means to have a soul.
Pixar has just released a brand-new trailer, poster, and images, for Pete Docter’s next film, Soul, and frankly, we haven’t been this excited for a movie in quite some time. Arriving in theatres June 19, Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.
In the trailer, we’re treated to a bevy of visual styles that tease the true genius of Pixar’s history for groundbreaking CG animation: a mix of modern-day and fantastical worlds; muted and vivid colors with a dose of black and white imagery; photoreal and fuzzy textures; silhouetted souls ascending a floating staircase to the great beyond; abstract, 2D line-drawn characters; and simple, otherworldly sets with a light, almost spiritual design and tone that are captivating yet uncomplicated. And, there’s pizza!
Harkening back to the more metaphysical aspects of Docter’s last film, the hugely popular Oscar-winning Inside Out, Soul appears once again to push the narrative boundaries that constrain big studio “family films” with a risky effort that tackles existential questions about the very essence of our being. Imagine… a thought-provoking, provocative big studio animated feature! It makes me almost giddy. Which, these days, is next to impossible. The film “feels” special; the varied designs, the lighting, the composition of elements, everything seems so thoughtfully placed, which, ultimately, is what makes the best of Pixar’s animation some of the best animation ever produced.
Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Daveed Diggs, Soul is directed by Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami) and produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray (Pixar short Lou). Globally renowned musician Jon Batiste is writing original jazz music for the film, and Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network), from Nine Inch Nails, have composed an original score that will drift between the real and soul worlds.
Source: Walt Disney Studios
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.