Oscars 2021: Soul crowned best animated film

When receiving his award, one of the co-directors, Pete Docter, said he wanted to make a film “that explores the meaning of life”.

Dreamlike fable about the meaning of life released in the middle of a deadly pandemic, Drunk, the ambitious and unique latest addition to Pixar studios, won the Oscar for best animated film on Sunday April 25. On receiving his award, one of the co-directors, Pete Docter, said he wanted to make a film “Which explores the meaning of life”. “This movie started out as a love letter to jazz, but we had no idea how much jazz would teach us about life. That we cannot control everything that happens to us, but that we can, like a jazz musician, transform everything that happens to us into something valuable and beautiful ”, did he declare.

Twenty-third feature film from this Disney subsidiary which marked the history of animation with Toy story, Drunk recounts the tribulations between the life and death of Joe Gardner, a modest New York music teacher who wanted to become a jazzman with the biggest stars. A fall throws him into an endless queue of heaven, the antechamber of death, before he falls by mistake into the “Great Beyond”, a world before birth where every human “soul” is supposed to acquire its own. personality, qualities and defects, before integrating a human body. An abstract universe, born from the imagination of Pete Docter, the most original of the studio’s authors, already Oscar winner for Up there or Vice versa, released in 2015, which set out to discover the “control center” of the consciousness of an introverted girl.

Drunk thus once again explores the depths of the soul: “Are we sent to Earth with a goal?” Is there a meaning in life? Do we have to find him? ” By the way, the film features Pixar’s first African-American hero, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx in the original version, Omar Sy for the French voice) alternating between the entirely imaginary setting of the “Great Beyond” and very realists of New York life. Pixar, often a pioneer both in visual techniques and in the themes addressed, once again tackles the question of death head-on, reminiscent of the feature film Coco.

Do not “terrify a whole generation”

“For us this film was an exploration of life (…) Children understand complex ideas and they already have these questions ”, underlined the screenwriter and co-director Kemp Powers, pointing out that “test screenings” were carried out by Pixar to ensure that his films did not risk “To terrify a whole generation”. Sign of the will not to offend anyone with its scenario imbued with metaphysics, the subsidiary of Disney, a group scalded by controversies around Mulan and the fate of the Uyghurs in China, took the lead: the film crew consulted “Priests, rabbis, people of Hindu and Buddhist tradition and even shamans” to “Inform as much as possible” and avoid “Inadvertently saying things that might bother”, explained Pete Docter.

Ironically, due to a schedule disrupted by the coronavirus, Drunk was competing against the previous Pixar installment, Forward, released over a year ago.

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Oscars 2021: Soul crowned best animated film

Hank Gilbert