by Ashley Schlotfeldt
Before watching the new Disney movie Soul, I assumed it was going to be a story about a musician who died before he was ready and went through this whole adventure to get back. In the end, he would be successful, and it would be the sort of thing where everyone would live happily ever after. I was expecting the type of Disney Pixar movie that’s solely meant to entertain kids with some silly concept to keep them entertained. However, after watching the movie, I was astounded by the amount of depth the film’s story truly contained.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, it follows a man named Joe Gardener who felt as though he had one purpose in life. He believed that until he finally achieved his dreams and got the big break in his career as a jazz musician, he would never be happy. Right after receiving the opportunity to perform, which he’d been anticipating for years, he fell down a hole and died. Joe tried everything to get back to the physical world, so he could finally live the life he’s been working towards since he was a kid. In the afterlife, he meets another soul that has never had the desire to be human until they’re accidentally brought back to earth. This soul, nicknamed Soul 22, starts to see the beauty in the little things of life. I won’t spoil the movie, but there’s a certain point where Joe is given the chance to either go back to his own life or to give Soul 22’s life back to them.
The important message in the film is to live every moment to the fullest, to not only strive towards that one dream or goal, and to not only pursue that and have it be your sole, heh, “soul,” purpose. We’re given multiple different gifts to apply to every part of our lives. Life is all about balance, so focusing too much on one specific thing can cause more harm than good sometimes. It causes one to lose focus of the other beautiful things in life that matter. We need to focus on every little thing that people normally miss. People go through life trying to make it to the next big thing, thinking, “if I accomplish this one thing” or “get to that final goal, then I’ll finally be happy.” The thing is, we have to be happy in the moment to truly enjoy the future ones to come.
I think they portrayed some really interesting concepts throughout the film as well. For example, in a few scenes, they show a place called “the land of lost souls,” where souls who have lost their joy or sense of purpose in life wander, searching for the spark that they’re missing. In one instance, they show a guy working at a monotonous desk job, and the moment his soul is freed from the last of the lost souls, he pretty much breaks out of his routine and realizes he desires more out of life than to just sit at the same “meaningless” job for the rest of his life. He has an awakening. Souls that feel like they’ve lost their purpose end up in this state and must find a way to break out of it, otherwise they’ll remain in that constant, seemingly inescapable loop. This is a message I feel like lots of people can relate to, since we’re all doing our best to search for meaning in our lives and to find joy. A quote by “Michael Faudet” that stood out to me a while back was, “Lost is a beautiful place to find yourself,” which basically means that although we may get lost from time to time, that’s where we truly find ourselves. The old mindsets and ideas must be broken down in order to be rebuilt and upgraded in a way. So, even though this concept of the lost souls seems hopeless, once they break out of that pattern, they can have a new, brighter view of life, like starting over and enjoying the little moments again.
Throughout the movie, Soul 22 is trying to find their spark, and find some purpose for living, but they couldn’t find one particular interest that they wanted to pursue. I love that even despite having a set purpose, they were still ready for life on earth. There are many people who don’t have one particular passion. For instance, I enjoy writing, but I’ve never truly had one sole passion in life. My passion is just living life and enjoying the beautiful moments. So in that way, Soul 22’s character resonated a lot with me. I love that this is one of the main messages, because in many movies, there’s always some goal or purpose that the character sets out to achieve. We’re meant to believe that we must have one sole purpose or passion, and if we don’t have that, we must be failing or not good enough in some way. In reality, we’re living exactly the way we’re meant to. We’re complex beings with multiple different interests and capabilities, so actively trying to limit it down to one thing limits us from being who we’re truly meant to be.
For example, when starting out in college, we’re expected to know where we want to go. We have this idea that we must have everything figured out, that we must plan out our lives years in advance with one particular objective in mind. If anything, this movie gives the audience a chance to realize that maybe there’s more to life than chasing one specific goal, because once we reach that goal, we usually end up wanting the next step. We risk never feeling content in the moment. I feel like that’s been a major lesson we all had to learn during quarantine and throughout all of the difficult things happening at the moment. We were forced to sit and think for a while and ended up enjoying the simple things we wouldn’t have enjoyed as much usually, like going for walks, or waving at a neighbor, or even just sitting outside in nature. We were able to embrace the world and those moments much more than we used to. Things we used to see as a normal everyday occurrence became an exciting gift.Overall, I love the way the movie Soul handled this concept. They portrayed it in such a way that shows the depth of this situation, yet still makes it light-hearted and fun enough for people of all ages to watch. They took a concept that people have been trying to figure out for centuries, and beautifully condensed it into one movie. It’s a concept we all relate to, and it gives you a new perspective and appreciation for life.