A Symbolism Breakdown of Disney Pixar’s ‘SOUL’

Disney Pixar’s newly released film “Soul” debuted at the end of a divesting and emotional year. A film full of intentional symbolisms to inspire certainly helped me prepare for a meaningful 2021 and beyond. Here are some of the messages I was able to discover and decipher.

Soul Orbs

In this movie, the souls are depicted in an orb-like shape. Of course Disney couldn’t just create an animated film about souls as a simple orb, so they gave the design a bit of personification. (My mom would be proud that I used that term.) However, if you reflect on the movies and shows surrounding paranormal activity, you’ll discover the reference. An intentional reference, at that! “Spirit orbs”, as they’re called, are the ghost-like visuals that appear in random photos, or even physical paranormal sightings. Coincidence, Nah.

22

Twenty-two is a main character in the movie that plays a soul that hasn’t made it down to Earth yet. She’s been in the Great Before for centuries in search of a “purpose” or a reason to live. She’s soul #22, so she’s been hovering around for a long ass time! Nothing seems to excite her in the metaphysical world; not the idea of pizza, playing music, sports, science, nothing. All, of course, because she can’t physically feel anything until she walks a mile in Joe’s shoes on Earth where she gets to experience the little things that make people happy. Things like moments on a crowded subway train, enjoying a savory slice of pizza, deep conversations with friends, clinching beach sang between your toes. You know, the little things that give life meaning.

The Jerrys

In my opinion, the Jerrys are one of the most interesting characters in the film. They were made to be a visual representation of “the coming together of all quantized fields of the universe”, all appearing in two-dimensional stick figure form that we humans can understand. Basically, the universe dumbing itself down to communicate with us. It’s semi insulting, but I get it.

Image Credit: Disney/ Pixar

Unless you’re a quantum physicist, I don’t expect you to think too deeply on this concept of knowledge. Hell, I tried to define the quantum field theory just now and instantly went cross-eyed! I’m not a physicist, I’m a journalist. So for now, just understand that the Jerrys are a visual representation of the one universe. Disney’s Pixar did a great job developing and executing this character and its role in the film. The Jerrys’ purpose is to regulate everything that exists, including helping the souls gain personality traits for their life as Earthlings. The Jerrys have access to everything and every soul that ever existed at all times, even through all dimensions. This quote really hit home for me:

“A spark isn’t a soul’s purpose. Oh, you mentors and your passions. Your purposes. Your meanings of life. So basic.”

It kind of gives you a perspective of the universe itself. Try to wrap your mind around that.

The Fish Tale

Toward the end of the film, the lead character, Joe, finally finds himself in a much anticipated space with Dorthea Williams, a renowned jazz musician. He tells her how unfulfilling he felt after finally playing in the band with her. She goes on to tell him a story about two fish.

SOUL, from left: Dorothea Williams (voice: Angela Bassett), Joe Gardner (voice: Jamie Foxx), 2020. © Disney+ / Courtesy Everett Collection


“I heard this story about a fish who swims up to another older fish and says…
Young Fish: I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.
Old Fish: The ocean? That’s what you’re in right now.
Young Fish: This? This is water. What I want is the ocean.

Dorthea then leaves Joe standing to contemplate by himself. PERSPECTIVE is what it’s all about.

Moonwind

Moonwind is an intentionally, significant character in this film that has a deep purpose in his role. He is the “spirit hopper” who has the ability to communicate with souls in the spirit world and on Earth. He’s the weird, quirky Earthling that helps lost souls by guiding them back to their Earth body. Using his meditation methods, he has perfected jumping in and out of “the zone”, which his peers think is what makes him a weirdo.

Image Credit: Disney/ Pixar


We’ve all seen those “weirdos” on the streets, pacing back and forth, talking to animals and inanimate objects. The ones we think are out of touch with reality and can’t make sense of them. Yeah, that’s Moonwind. But maybe, just maybe, the Moonwinds of the world are really the ones who are more connected to the greater universe than you are.

The Zone

Since we’re on the topic of “the zone”, I feel like this is one of the most relatable pieces of this movie. You know how it feels when you lose yourself doing something you really enjoy and everything around you seems to physically blur out? Time escapes you with a feeling of weightlessness. In this film, it’s understood to be somewhat of a portal between the physical and spiritual worlds. Marinate on that one!

Portals

Since we’re on the topic of metaphysicality, I might as well address the ideas behind the use of portals in the film. Disney doesn’t dive too deep on the idea of portals, but they are still significant overall. In Soul, portals are what the souls and the universe energies, AKA Jerrys, use to hop from one place to another. The Earth Portal, The Zone, The Great Before, and The Great Beyond are the only ones that are addressed here. If you’re a believer in the universe, of course, ther have to be many more.

Image Credit: Disney/ Pixar


Overall, this movie was something we all needed to see and hear, especially to end a treacherous year like 2020. It forced the viewer to do a bit of self-reflection during a time where self-reflection was needed and encouraged. It touched me so that I cried my eyes out at the end, nearly bursting at every revealed message. Bravo Disney, Bravo!

“Soul” is available now on Disney+


Seen it already? What would you rate it?

Rating: 1 out of 5.