Disney’s Soul is a must-watch, especially for musicians

December 25, 2020, Disney+ released a new movie called Soul. The movie is about a jazz musician who has a near death experience and realizes that he needs to do more with his life. In the movie, the protagonist, Joe Gardener, is a school band teacher who aspires to be a famous jazz piano player. After taking a job to play backup piano for famous singer Dorothea Williams, his excitement causes him to not watch his step and falls into a pothole, which puts him in a coma. He automatically appears on a path towards the “Great Beyond,” but Joe is not ready for death. He falls off the path to death and into the “Great Before” and finds out how passions and purposes come to be. 

Soul gave me a feeling that other movies rarely address: the feeling of becoming immersed in music. The opening scene, which features a bunch of band kids playing terribly, shows one girl, Connie, playing her own song and becoming lost in it. Joe then explains how he feels when he plays and gets lost in the music. When Joe plays at an audition, he also becomes absorbed in the tunes. These scenes illustrate a feeling to which any musician can relate. As a pianist myself, I understand how Connie and Joe feel when they become absorbed in song. Notes may sound terrible when they’re out of place, but as Joe describes to his students, the right notes together can make the perfect song for how you’re feeling. Also, if you look behind Joe during the audition, you can see that the blue and red lights correspond to the notes he plays (similar to how flavors correspond to colors and songs in Ratatouille). He becomes so lost in the music that his emotions pour out until he forgets where he is and all that there is is him and the music.

The songs and musical feeling weren’t the movie’s only good qualities. I have to hand it to the animators; they did an outstanding job with the movie’s graphics. Everything in New York is just as it is in real life: noisy and full of traffic and pizza. The color palette of the real world takes on more of a muted, rustic tone, whereas in the “Great Beyond” the scenes are full of black, white and gray. The differing colors indicate the opposite energy in these scenes. New York is filled with so much to look at: the stores, the people, the streets, the cars that zoom by. The “Great Beyond” is very minimal, with the focal point being the contrast between the colorless room and the people, which have a bluish hue with hints of green and purple. Likewise, the “Great Before” embraces different shades of blue in the hills, the sky and the trees. 

Overall, I would say this movie is one of my favorites that Disney has ever made. It was enjoyable to watch and relatable to me as a musician. I would definitely rate Soul 5/5 stars.