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Pixar's hyper-existential Soul gets its first teaser

Screenshot: Soul (YouTube)

Soul, otherwise known as the Pixar film featuring a Trent Reznor score, just got its first teaser, which teases an existential journey not unlike that of the studio’s Inside Out. 

Jamie Foxx lends his voice to Joe Gardner, a burgeoning jazz musician who, uh, dies after landing his dream job. In an alternate dimension, he meets another soul named 22 (Tina Fey), whose nihilism strikes uncomfortably against his own passion for art. The two then embark through “cosmic realms” to try and bring Joe back to the living world. What’s especially interesting is how the film interrogates the idea of suffering for one’s art. “For anyone who has a profession in the creative arts, it’s an almost religious obsessiveness you have to have to have success and a career in the arts,” Kemp Power, a writer and co-director on the film, told Entertainment Weekly. “At any point, no matter how happy you are doing what you do, it feels like that obsessiveness is detrimental to the rest of your life.” Gardner, producer Dana Powers continues, has “lived his whole life like he was meant to do this one thing [music] to the exclusion of pretty every other thing.” Soul, then, is about embracing the breadth of everything life has to offer.

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Pete Docter, the mind behind Inside Out, is also responsible for this existential piece, the creator having emerged as Pixar’s creative leader in the wake of John Lasseter’s departure. Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, and Daveed Diggs round out the cast, while acclaimed musician Jon Batiste penned the jazz tunes that serve to accent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score.

Of the film’s afterlife animation, Docter told EW, “We talked to a lot of folks that represented religious traditions and cultural traditions and [asked], ‘What do you think a soul is?’ All of them said ‘vaporous’ and ‘ethereal’ and ‘non-physical.’ We were like, ‘Great! How do we do this?’ We’re used to toys, cars, things that are much more substantial and easily referenced. This was a huge challenge, but I gotta say, I think the team really put some cool stuff together that’s really indicative of those words but also relatable.”

Watch the gorgeous teaser below.

Soul hits theaters on June 19, 2020.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.