Pixar’s Soul – Themes and Reflections

Rather than be specific, which I couldn’t be without re-watching the movie and taking notes, I’ll give you a summary of what happened and make comments along the way.

The main character is a part-time band teacher in a middle school. The movie opens with him getting promoted to full-time work. He immediately feels let down because he really wants to be a full-time jazz musician. I felt that as I’ve often had to compromise on ‘my dreams’ for ‘a job’. And that is part of the central theme of this movie, which I’ll come back to later.

However, as luck would have it, the main character gets a phone call from one of his former students who is in a band with a famous jazz musician and needs someone like him to fill in for someone who recently left the band. He ends up getting the gig, but dies shortly afterwards. The main character is now in the afterlife and very upset that ‘he finally got what he wanted and then it was taken away’ so he escapes to the ‘before life’ where souls are born. We have now seen a second aspect of the central theme, which is ‘for the fish to recognize water’, in other words, a misplaced search for something you already have.

In the ‘before life’, the main character is matched with a soul who hasn’t been able to graduate to earth because they are never satisfied (a kind of opposite twin of the main character). The rules are that you have to get a spark of something you like in the ‘before life’ before you’re allowed to go to earth. The characters mistakenly believe that this is their ‘purpose’ in life and without having it or achieving it, then their life is meaningless. The main character believes their life is meaningless despite people like his students telling them they helped improve their lives. I felt that.

The soul’s name is 22, which is the day of my birthday. I took this personally. 22 was never satisfied with anything. Nothing excited him. He had seen everything and tried everything and nothing moved the needle for him (or her). However, along the way, after being mentored by all of the great minds in history, 22 had become very intelligent, but not necessarily wise (intelligence applied). I felt that too because I’ve often spent a lot of time learning, but never really finding what I want to do in life.

Eventually they figure out a way to escape to earth where the new soul learns about things on earth and realizes…I’m not quite sure….something about ‘living itself’ or ‘life itself’ or ‘the act of learning how to live’ is that soul’s spark. They like to learn, not necessarily do. And once learned, they like to tell other people about what they’ve learned, but not necessarily as a teacher, but as an unintentional mentor. I felt that, too. The fact that I’m sharing this with you right now shows that I’m like that. It’s why I used to blog and vlog.

Eventually they learn, like the fish looking for the ocean, that each person doesn’t have a pre-destined purpose. The barber wanted to become a veterinarian, but he needed money sooner to pay for his daughter being born, so he became a barber. People who know him think he was born to be a barber because he is so good at it. The barber says he has found joy in being a barber despite it not being what he wanted. He realizes that he is still able to help people and in doing so, help himself. That is the theme of this movie – to realize that what you have and what you are doing is your purpose and you are having an impact. Realize what you do have and the impact you are making and think less about what you don’t. That thing you’re searching for…you already have it.

And that’s also the theme of books like The Alchemist who goes on a grand journey for treasure that ultimately leads him back to a treasure under the house where he started. Or the idea of “diamonds in your own backyard”, a famous sermon repeated over the years about a farmer who sold his farm to go looking for treasure only to later realize his farm had a natural abundance of diamonds.

Review of All You Need is Kill

I was 13 years old in 1993 when Groundhog Day was released in theaters. 5 years later, I started writing a looping screenplay of my own called “Breeze Way”. In 2009, Hiroshi Sakurazaka published All You Need is Kill, a looping war action drama, which was released as Edge of Tomorrow in 2014.

I was so excited when I first saw the trailer. I was like, “Yes, Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds – starring Tom Cruise!”, but when I found out it was based on a book, I was like, “I can’t wait, I’m just going to read it.” I ended up reading it in one evening and found it very riveting. The ending of the book is much different than the movie, but I won’t ruin it here. There are no spoilers in this post.

Quotes from All You Need is Kill

The book is, at times, more insightful than the movie (emphasis mine):

What if someone who had the potential to discover a formula to unlock the mysteries of the universe wanted to become a pulp fiction writer? What if someone who had the potential to create unparalleled gastronomic delicacies had his heart set on civil engineering? There is what we desire to do, and what we are able to do. When those two things don’t coincide, which path should we pursue to find happiness?

This one covers talent vs. deliberate practice and self improvement:

I didn’t possess any extraordinary talents that set me apart from my peers. I was just a soldier. There were things I could do, and things I couldn’t. If I practiced, in time I could change some of those things I couldn’t do into things I could.”

There are some technical explanations for how the looping is happening, which the author, Sakurazaka, attempts to explain and wrap up the story, but I found them a little bit of a stretch. However, it’s much more of an explanation than what you get from Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day.

The ‘Science’ from All You Need is Kill

In the book, the alien fighters use “tachyons”, theoretical particles that can travel faster than the speed of light, to travel backwards in time. Tachyons were also used in Watchmen (2009) where Dr. Manhattan’s ability to see into the future is blocked by tachyons generated by Adrian Veidt. In All You Need is Kill (2009), alien terraformers use tachyon pulses to send information back to themselves to win a battle.

Tachyons Research in Reality

In 2012 the Higgs Boson particle was confirmed, which is a particle in “tachyon condensation” meaning it is in a quantum field with “imaginary mass” (whatever that means). In 2011, before the Higgs Boson particle was confirmed, scientists theorized that Higgs “singlets” may be traveling back in time and sabotaging the discovery. I guess that wasn’t happening since they were able to discover it eventually, but who knows?

Predestination Explained: a Timeline without Paradoxes

Predestination_Movie

The following timelines show how the timeline we saw in the movie, Predestination, was not the original timeline, but one edited by Robertson. These are just my ideas:

Option 1

  1. Time travel was invented in 1981 and Robertson is tasked with creating the perfect temporal agent.
  2. Robertson researches medical textbooks and finds a case of a woman with full male parts.
  3. He travels back in time, kidnaps the baby from the parents, and takes her to an orphanage in 1945 (well within the 53 year limit).
  4. Robertson travels to 1960 to recruit Jane from the orphanage for SpaceCorps where she is impregnated.
  5. Her pregnancy results in a C-section, hysterectomy, and a reconstruction of her male organs.
  6. Robertson steals her baby and kills it. She falls into a depression. She hates her life.
  7. Robertson meets Jane in 1970 after her sperm starts working and offers her a second chance at life. He takes her back to 1964 so that she can impregnate herself and be in “full control of her life”.
  8. 1964 Jane has the baby, has emergency surgery, is reconstructed, and Robertson steals her baby.
  9. Robertson takes the baby back to 1945.

Option 2

  1. The original Jane was born with male and female parts and given to the orphanage by her original parents in 1945
  2. Robertson worked for SpaceCorp, which was an organization who recruited from hookers and orphanages in the 60’s
  3. While the Original Jane was at SpaceCorp, doctors revealed to Robertson her unique anatomy and she was rejected
  4. In 1981 time travel is invented and Robertson is asked to find someone suitable to be a temporal agent
  5. Robertson remembers Original Jane who by 1981 has already had a child ‘naturally’ and been reconstructed as a man, Original John
  6. Original John hates his life, has a child, and is struggling to make ends meet.
  7. Robertson recruits Original John with the promise he can help him fix his life before it went wrong.
  8. Robertson goes with Original John back to 1964 in Cleveland and guides him to Original Jane, thereby changing history.
  9. Original John impregnates Original Jane, which creates a 2nd Jane Doe, but with the same DNA and unique anatomy.
  10. Original Jane Doe is killed.
  11. Robertson steals 2nd Jane Doe from nursery and takes her back to 1945.

Possible Problems

The problem is that they both result in 2 babies being in 1945. The problem is that if you kill one, neither timeline can happen. This move has at least 3 paradoxes that I can count. Now I will see what others are saying and post that below these 2 options.

Possible Explanations

There are multiple babies and they are all temporal agents. Bartender John mentions there are 11. That could mean there are 11 loops of himself. Not sure.

Summary Explanation

The irony is that Jane thinks Robertson was her redeemer, when in reality he was her destroyer.

Other People’s Ideas

The following 2 ideas are from Reddit and Quora:

http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/2nhhou/did_i_understand_the_plot_of_predestination/

It could make sense if the original Jane was born to parents and then had a sex change due to some other occurrence and becomes John. Robertson makes John a temporal agent who eventually becomes the Fizzle bomber due to psychosis. Then, Robertson has the Fizzle bomber go back and procreated with him/herself. Then, Robertson also has the Fizzle bomber take the baby back to the orphanage. Thus the paradox begins. The Fizzle bomber then retires. So, Robertson goes back to recruit Jane/John after the post-birthing sex change. That John’s new job is to hunt down and stop the Fizzle bomber. That John becomes John(Ethan) due to his brush up with the Fizzle bomber. John(Ethan) is now asked to go back and procreate with the Jane that was birthed by the Fizzle bomber and past Jane and to then take that baby back to the orphanage. John(Ethan) forgets that he was once the other John. He is then asked to go back to the bar and help John(the one who he had a baby with) go back to meet Jane. The movie then unfolds from here.

http://digestivepyrotechnics.blogspot.com/2014/12/predestination-plot-explained.html

Barkeep makes one “illegal” jump to intercept the event that causes John to burn his face. However, Barkeep causes the confusion that ends up John burning his face.

I think there are 11 versions of John. When John asks Barkeep how many temporal agents are there? He responds with ‘there are 11 of us’ and goes on to say that we were all ‘born into it’. Each time he takes the baby back in time a new Jane/John is created.