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Why The Shapes Of The Beings In Soul Mean More Than You Think

Much like how Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) goes on an odyssey in the upcoming film Soul, the movie itself has had quite the whirlwind journey. While the film was originally planned to have a June 2020 release date, it was quickly scrapped in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was initially some question regarding when we'd get the chance to see the latest Pixar film, and fortunately, we won't have to wait too much longer. The movie's foregoing a theatrical release entirely and is instead becoming a Disney+ original. It will be available to all subscribers (without needing to pay for Premier Access) starting on December 25, 2020, making for a nice Christmas surprise in your stocking. 

The movie follows Joe, a middle school music teacher who finally gets within reach of achieving his dreams of playing jazz music onstage. But an accident results in his soul becoming separated from his body. To make his way back to Earth, he'll need to team up with a soul who hasn't gotten a chance to live yet, 22 (Tina Fey), before his body dies for good. 

A Pixar movie explicitly about death? Yeah, you better get ready to cry for this one. 

As is the case with most of the studio's films, it looks as though its animators have once again pushed the boundaries of what's possible within the medium. In a recent interview with IGN, Soul director Pete Docter explains the process of designing the various souls in the film and what the thought process was behind their different shapes. 

The souls in Soul take on characteristics the person had in life

In the ethereal world Pixar has created for Soul, there's a Great Beyond where souls go after their bodies die, and there's a Great Before, where souls go to develop personality traits before being sent to Earth. The souls we see in the Great Before all look alike, which makes sense. They haven't been shaped by any life experiences yet, so they're these generic-looking round shapes that are ready to be molded by whatever body they assume in life. 

As Pete Docter states, after a soul has been to Earth and has lived through various events, the soul itself changes to adopt some of the traits of the individual. As he puts it, "Once they go live, our thought was 'Life changes you.' It's the reason why souls go to Earth, is to be shaped by life. And so their soul shape is gonna be formed in reflection of who they were on Earth." Naturally, there are some pretty distinguishing characteristics you can see on Joe's soul, such as his signature hat and glasses. At various points in the movie, he encounters other souls who have already lived, who wear bow ties or have their hair a certain way. 

Of course, there's a practical aspect of this in that the audience needs to be able to tell who is who. It would get confusing real quick if everyone's souls looked alike, and we didn't know until someone spoke who they were; however, it makes for a nice bit of world-building that the forces behind-the-scenes of Pixar managed to come up with an in-universe explanation for why souls look different. For more insight into this fantastical realm, make sure to check out Pete Docter's exclusive interview with Looper

Get ready to submerge yourself in a world unlike anything seen in a Pixar movie before. Soul arrives on Disney+ on December 25, 2020.