It’s the Soul That Counts

Poster for the movie Soul


Poster for the movie Soul

Oliver Klipsch, Writer



This month has seen rioters storm the Capitol building in Washington D.C. and more deaths of COVID-19 than any other single month. It seems that 2021 is going to be just as dark, if not darker, than the abysmal year of 2020. Maybe, we all need a little soul – perhaps the movie Soul is just what we need. 

Soul is a movie about a New York Jazz music teacher with a dream about becoming a big-time professional musician. Just when he gets the chance to fulfill that dream, he dies in an accident and is transported to the afterlife, where adventures ensue in his quest to return back to the physical world.


The film presents its messages of purpose and passion with stunning visuals. Watching the scenes of the afterlife, I felt like I was watching the world through the eyes of someone undergoing a psychedelic experience, or someone who had just discovered a strange and wonderful alien world and was beginning to explore it. The scenes oscillate between vast black voids with paths leading into unknown futures, cheerful environments which look like some celestial being wove them out of clouds and light, and sandy blue dreamlike seas with dark purple and black skies which hang above like a heavy blanket.


The color, I think, is part of what makes the environment of the Soul universe to mesmerizing to look at – on Earth, there are earthy colors, rich browns, the grimy, fluorescent feel of the New York Subway, the cheerful colors of a neighborhood barbershop, the fast-moving, always changing visual environment of a bustling NYC street. In the afterlife, however, the colors are not of the earth at all, with the environment resembling soft clouds with hues of bright, electric blues and greens. In various sequences, the characters are composed only of moving lines. Even the color the characters in the afterlife seems to be trying to escape the characters’ bodies, changing color while they do. 


The two worlds shown in the movie – the “real world” and the afterlife – both portray the one essence and spirit of the main character, Joe Gardner, in visually different but somehow similar ways, which allows the viewer to easily identify who is who. 


The plot is heartwarming and easily followable, and it is extremely difficult to lose interest in, due to the visuals and to the dynamic plot. It moves at a medium pace, which makes sure that its metaphorical messages are heard but also ensuring that they don’t overwhelm you. 


While some films present characters to whom you look up to and aspire to be, Soul presents a relatable main character who we do not need to do much to find in ourselves. He does not have a fancy house. He does not have powers that let him fly or move buildings. He does not have a high-powered job full of strange and sometimes malicious characters that he must defend himself against. What he does have is a purpose, a passion and, most importantly, a soul and, perhaps especially now, we need to look within ourselves and see that we have one too.