IN COCO, AUDIENCES WERE TAKEN on a mystical adventure to the Land of the Dead. In Inside Out, we were transported inside the mind of a young girl. In Ratatouille, we discovered French cuisine through the eyes of a rat. So what have the creative geniuses at Pixar cooked up next? In Soul, we follow a music teacher from New York City as he stumbles into a cosmic world called The Great Before. This otherworldly domain is where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. It’s there the protagonist of the story meets a precocious soul called 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), who has no desire to leave the ethereal plane she currently calls home.
The initial idea for the movie was percolating in the mind of director and co-writer Pete Docter for more than two decades. “Soul explores the idea of where the ‘inner us’ comes from,” he tells SFX. “It’s an exploration into what makes us who we are as people, because we’re more than just our bodies. This is something I’ve been thinking about ever since my kids were born, which was more than 20 years ago. When my kids were born, they already had a personality. Where did that happen? How did it happen? My kids were both raised in the same environment, but why do they look at the world differently? It’s fascinating.”
What is it that defines us? That’s the question at the heart of Pixar’s latest release, and although it’s rather a lofty question, that doesn’t mean Soul is burdened with themes that are overly profound. Sure, there are some deep questions to be asked, and maybe some tears will be spilled – but Soul is also barmy, bewildering and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s up there with the Pixar greats.
NO AVERAGE JOE
Work on Soul officially commenced four years ago, but there was a huge mountain to climb in terms of pulling the story together. “When I started on the project in the early part of 2016, one of the biggest challenges involved trying to find a main character who was engaging and interesting; someone you wanted to root for,” explains Docter. “When you see the film, you’ll notice that it’s an artist’s journey that has a lot to do with passion and purpose, as well as the fact that life doesn’t always go the way you expect it to go. It’s taken us a long time to get here.”
The protagonist in question is Joe Gardner, a passionate music teacher voiced by Jamie Foxx. Joe is a jazz pianist who dreams of a professional music career, but his big break is squandered when he falls down a manhole and ends up in The Great Before.
“When we meet him, Joe barely keeps his dream of being a musician alive,” reveals Docter. “The ember is still glowing, but he has to supplement his income as a teacher. He always assumed that’d be temporary until he landed a full-time gig as a professional musician – but then his life changes forever.” Alongside Foxx and Fey, there are a host of international stars involved – including Graham Norton as a psychedelic sign-twirler named Moonwind and Richard Ayoade as a counsellor called Jerry. Plus there are all the classic Pixar Easter eggs you’ve come to expect in their movies.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
ALIEN NATION CREATOR ROCKNE S O’BANNON AND DIRECTOR GRAHAM BAKER TALK ABOUT THE BUDDY COP THRILLER WITH AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL TWIST
GODZILLA VS. KONG
WHO WILL RULE THE MONSTERVERSE IN GODZILLA VS. KONG’S BATTLE OF THE BEASTS? THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT… FIIIIIIIIGHT! DIRECTOR ADAM WINGARD TELLS US MORE
The American writer talks about living in opposition to the status quo
Maggie will be taking no prisoners in The Walking Dead’s final series
The author of the John Nyquist books is a great admirer of Stephen King
GIVING YOU THE CREEPS
Producer, director, writer and all-around horror guru Greg Nicotero loves Creepshow season two – and he’s got every right to!
Paul Cornell and Emma Vieceli’s The Modern Frankenstein updates Mary Shelley’s classic tale for the lockdown generation
There Will Be BLOOD
DIRECTOR SIMON MCQUOID AND PRODUCER TODD GARNER EXPLAIN WHY THIS BIG-SCREEN VERSION OF MORTAL KOMBAT IS GOING FOR THE JUGULAR
The French-Canadian writer tells us why space is the place
THEM CREATOR LITTLE MARVIN INVITES SFX TO JOIN HIM ON A LEAFY ’50S STREET TO EXPERIENCE HIS NEW HORROR ANTHOLOGY SERIES
PIXAR'S ‘SOUL' JOINS MID-LIFE CRISIS, JAZZ FANTASIA
Pete Docter’s “Soul” features stairway-to-heaven visions of the afterlife, a pre-birth “before” realm where souls are glowing turquoise orbs and an in-between spiritual realm trafficked by some kind of psychedelic pirate. And yet, kind of magically, it’s about “just regular old living.”
DISNEY UNVEILS PLANS TO STREAM A GALAXY OF NEW SERIES, FILMS
The Walt Disney Co.’s streaming plans shifted into hyper speed, as the studio unveiled a galaxy’s worth of new streaming offerings including plans for 10 “Star Wars” series spinoffs and 10 Marvel series that will debut on Disney+.
COMPUTER-GRAPHICS PIONEERS WIN TECH'S TURING PRIZE
The technology that animated movies like “Toy Story” and enabled a variety of special effects is the focus of this year’s Turing Award, the technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize.
Disney+: Already, Nearly A Must-Have
Aside from its classic in-house films, Disney probably owns a few other entertainment properties you care about, among them Pixar and Marvel. Disney+, the company’s new video streaming service, delivers the vast majority of the content it owns in attractive interfaces with competitive features such as 4K streaming, offline downloads, and personalized recommendations.
Betty – Una pastorcita de armas tomar
La historia de Betty, la pastora de porcelana, había quedado inconclusa.
Amigos hasta el fin – El legado de una caja de juguetes
Armados con las herramientas tecnológicas más modernas y con el respaldo de un archivo de 25 años que pudimos explorar, Pixar mira hacia el futuro de la mano de sus personajes más emblemáticos: los juguetes de Toy Story.
GRAB Every Opportunity
I have heard many people complaining that there is no opportunity for them as someone is already doing what they always wanted to do. But they don’t realize that they must grab the opportunity. When I started my training programme, there were many established trainers in the field already. But I knew that my story is different from theirs. Even if the stories were similar, I can say it differently.
A Big Plus
DISNEY I At the recent Investor Day, the Mouse House dropped the motherlode. TF unpacks all the details we can physically cram in…
RENDER A LUXURIOUS BUILDING EXTERIOR
Learn how to set up a detailed city scene and add details to improve your photorealism
HEART and SOUL
Known for re-shaping the landscape of movies as we know it (not just animated ones), Pixar has respectfully raised the bar with delightful, heartfelt aplomb. From the intense opening segment of Up where no matter how lacking in emotion you think you are, tears will still come running, to the joyous Randy Newman-scored Toy Story moments, to the roaring, superhero family dynamics in The Incredibles, there’s an endless array of remarkable Pixar memories. Even in just these highlighted animated spectacles alone, Pixar has imprinted many sequences into our brains that we will never, ever forget. Everyone has a favourite Pixar character, scene, quote, song, and catchphrase that still evokes something nostalgically magical in them. So, what’s yours?