“Soul”, a soul in the dark
Let’s start with a huge regret: Drunk (“Soul” in French), the latest addition to the Pixar studio, will not be released in theaters but only on the Disney + digital platform. This singular and daring animated film, which encourages introspection, existential questions and examinations of conscience, was cut out for dark rooms, their collective intimacy, their ability to arouse emotion and reflection. The health crisis wanted it otherwise, plunging on the 7e art in deep concern for its survival, even if the Cassandras have always buried it too quickly.
→ READ. The world according to Disney
Joe Gardner, the hero of Drunk, did not say his last word either, while fate chose to throw him into a manhole! A college music teacher, a bachelor in a row, the 40-year-old New Yorker has “Jazz to the soul” : he dreams of being part of a group, of playing in a club in the metropolis. His dream came true when one of his former students called him back to offer him a quick replacement for the pianist of jazz legend Dorothea Williams. Euphoric, he spins through the streets until the ground slips away …
“We don’t crush souls here, we send them to Earth for that! “
Black screen. Joe’s soul comes into play. On the escalator that leads him to the white light of the beyond, she turns back to land where it all begins, the “Grand Avant”. In this gently hilly landscape evoking an ethereal Tuscany, new souls are born – bulb heads with emoticon expressions – before being sent to Earth.
Guided by skinny-looking “advisers”, between Picasso and the Italian animated series La Linea, they acquire their specificity, a combination of five or six character traits (and not one more!), at the end of a journey through the various places of initiation: the Pavilions of personalities, the Theater of your life, the Grand Bazaar General, etc. So many opportunities for Pete Docter and his team to reconnect with the complexity of fantastic worlds, like those of his previous feature film, the brilliant Vice versa (2015), journey to the center of a little girl’s head.
Substituting himself for one of the mentors responsible for supporting the beings in the making, Joe struggles to help one of them, the mischievous 22, to find his way. “We don’t crush souls here, we send them to Earth for that! “, taunts this strong spirit, in no hurry to leave the comfort of his little paradise. At the risk of falling into the Astral Plane, a sea of sand where the poor lost heres get stuck …
With Drunk, the filmmaker tackles head-on the favorite theme of his filmography: the exploration of the human soul. That of childish fears in Monsters, Inc. (2001), a fantastic journey through the doors of toy cupboards; that of the broken dreams of a cranky old man in Up there (2009), an aerial odyssey in a house suspended from balloons; or those of the meanders of the mind of a preteen girl, in Vice versa, whose Drunk seems to be the metaphysical and spiritual counterpart.
→ CRITICAL. “Vice Versa”, journey to the center of the head
Like great classics playing on the porosity between the terrestrial and the celestial – Life is Beautiful, by Frank Capra, A matter of life and death, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Wings of Desire, by Wim Wenders -, this great animated film with crazy inventiveness and elegant staging raises the eternal questions: where do we come from? Who are we ? Where are we going ?
Directors consulted with priests and rabbis
Drunk does not really settle the great debate between the innate and the acquired and avoids spiritual questions. However, the directors consulted priests, rabbis, representatives of Hinduism and Buddhism, and even shamans in order to know their point of view and not to offend any major religion …
On the other hand, the film invites you to stop chasing vain dreams, to reconnect with your body and its environment. “You humans with your passions, it’s a primary! “, laughs one of the “advisers”. This message is not surprising from Pixar who, despite its constant quest for technical and artistic excellence, prefers, to the cold mirage of perfection, the warm improvisation of life on a few notes of jazz.
Pixar Mainstay Pete Docter
1968. Birth of Pete Docter.
1990. Join Pixar, of which he becomes one of the pillars, participating directly or indirectly in all of the studio’s films, including the first feature film, Toy story (1995).
2001. Corealizes Monsters, Inc..
2009. Corealizes Up there, of which he is also a co-author. The film received the Oscar for best animated film the following year.
2015. Co-produce and co-write Vice versa, also named best animated film at the Oscars in 2016.
2018. Appointed Creative Director of Pixar Studios following John Lasseter’s departure over charges of “Inappropriate behavior” with regard to its employees.
2020. Corealizes Drunk, of which he is also a co-writer.