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Soul

Soul is a 2020 American computer-animated comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film was directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers (in his feature directorial debut), and produced by Dana Murray, with a screenplay written by Docter, Powers, and Mike Jones. The film stars the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, and Angela Bassett. It follows a pianist, Joe Gardner (Foxx), who is involved in an accident before his big break as a jazz musician and seeks to reunite his separated soul and body.

Docter conceived Soul in January 2016, examining the origins of human personalities and the concept of determinism. The film's producers consulted various jazz musicians including, Herbie Hancock and Terri Lyne Carrington, and animated its musical sequences using the sessions of musician Jon Batiste as a reference. Apart from Batiste's original jazz compositions, musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the film's score. Production on Soul lasted for four years on an approximate $150 million budget. It is the first Pixar film to feature a Black lead.

Soul premiered at the London Film Festival on October 11, 2020, and was scheduled to be theatrically released on June 19 and November 20. However, the feature was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Soul was released direct-to-streaming on Disney+ on December 25, 2020, and in theaters in countries without the streaming service. Soul was well-received by critics for its craftsmanship, story, characters, and musical score. Organizations like the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute named the film as one of the top 10 films of 2020. Soul was nominated for three awards at the 93rd Academy Awards season, winning two, and received numerous accolades.

Plot[]

In New York City, pianist Joe Gardner teaches music class part-time at a middle school while dreaming of playing jazz professionally. When he receives an offer for a full-time teaching position, his mother Libba urges him to accept it. Joe learns famous jazz musician Dorothea Williams has an opening in her quartet and auditions at a jazz club. Impressed with Joe's piano playing, Dorothea hires him for that night's show. As Joe heads off, his excitement distracts him, and he falls down a manhole into the sewers.

Joe finds himself as a disembodied soul heading into an afterlife dubbed the "Great Beyond". Unwilling to die, he tries to escape but ends up in the "Great Before" — a realm where souls gain personalities and interests before being born on Earth. In the Great Before, counselors — all named Jerry — prepare unborn souls for life with the help of mentor souls. Each soul has a badge that grants passage to Earth, once the badge is completely filled with personality traits. Mistaken for a mentor, Joe is assigned to train a soul named 22, who wants to avoid Earth. 22 discovers that Joe's physical body is hospitalized and in a coma. She agrees to let Joe help find her "spark" — a soul's personal passion — to complete her badge so he can use it to return home. After Joe fails to find 22 a spark, they visit "the zone", a place that souls can enter when their passions create a euphoric trance, but becomes a trap for obsessed, lost souls. They meet Moonwind—a galleon captain—who helps the duo locate Joe's body on Earth.

Joe returns to Earth but accidentally carries 22 with him. They mistakenly enter the wrong bodies — with 22 inhabiting Joe's body and Joe inhabiting the body of a therapy cat. They find Moonwind, who agrees to meet at the jazz club to restore Joe to his body. In the meantime, 22 settles into Joe's body and enjoys small moments while interacting with Joe's peers. She holds poignant conversations with his student Connie, his barber Dez, and mother. Meanwhile, Terry, a being in charge of counting souls, arrives on earth to find Joe and restore the count.

As the day ends, Joe and 22 visit Moonwind to return Joe to his body. After Joe tells 22 that her experiences were not purposes, 22 refuses and flees to find her spark with Joe tailing behind. As they run through a subway station, Terry traps them both and brings them back to the Great Before. 22 realizes her badge is filled out, yet Joe insists it was because of his traits, and that she has not truly found her spark. Angry, 22 throws the badge at him and disappears into the zone. A Jerry informs Joe that a spark is not a soul's purpose in life, but Joe refuses to believe this and uses 22's badge to return to Earth.

The show at the jazz club is successful, but Joe is upset at his unchanged life even after fulfilling his dream. Looking at objects that 22 collected while in his body, he recalls the moments they had enjoyed together. Joe realizes these experiences have given 22 her spark. By playing piano, he enters the zone with the intent to return her badge, but discovers that she has become a lost soul. He chases her down, showing her a maple seed she collected to remind her of her time on Earth. They realize that a spark is not a soul's purpose, but indicates an intention to live. Joe's actions restore 22 to normal, returning her badge and escorting her out of the Great Before for her journey to Earth.

As Joe prepares to enter the Great Beyond, a Jerry stops him and offers another chance at life for finally inspiring 22 to live. Joe returns to his body on Earth, and starts the next day committed to enjoying life.

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