US animated film ‘Soul’ holds strong in China with high praise from Chinese moviegoers
Published: Jan 04, 2021 06:28 PM

Photo: VCG

Pixar's animated film Soul continued to perform well at the Chinese mainland box office during the New Year holiday weekend due to great word of mouth and praise from Chinese moviegoers, many of whom have fallen for the film's core message of appreciating life.  

The movie has received rave reviews on major Chinese media review platforms such as a 8.9/10 on Douban and 9.6/10 on Maoyan, making the film the highest-rated film released in December 2020. 

Although the movie's screen share was as low as 2.7 percent before the New Year holiday and marketing for the film was nearly nonexistent, public praise for the film has enabled it to continue to gain ground at the box office. The film ranked among the top three highest-earning films on Sunday.

Released on Christmas Day 2020, the film has earned 170 million yuan ($26.3 million) as of Sunday, surpassing the box office of DC superhero film Wonder Woman 1984 (163 million yuan), which released a week before.

Many Chinese movie reviewers recommended the movie on social media and called on cinemas to increase its screenshare so more moviegoers could have the opportunity to see what they are calling a brilliant film.

"Soul constructs a wonderful and warm world to discuss our dreams, reality and life. It is a healing movie with rich imagination and abundant emotion. A person who only sticks to the idea of climbing a ladder to the sky always thinks of daily life as nothing but annoying trifles, but only by truly embracing life can they experience the beauty of life itself," Shi Wenxue, a film critic and teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times on Monday.

He added that Soul's message is to cherish the present instead of blindly pursuing great goals, which can be seen as a critique of Donald Trump's slogan "Make America great again." 

Many Chinese moviegoers said they were moved by the film's message to enjoy every second of life even if it is very plain.

The story follows a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who seeks to reunite his body and soul after they are accidentally separated just before his big break as a jazz musician. During his journey, he meets a not-yet-born soul who doesn't understand the point of life and together they learn what living is truly about. 

After watching the film, many moviegoers realized that they too are ordinary people who may have destinations that can never be reached and that there are sights they will never see, but "I should not miss out on all the other sights along the way just because of vain goals like high income, big houses and luxury bags. It's time to slow down and appreciate the scenes of daily life and live in the moment," a moviegoer surnamed Wan, 27, told the Global Times on Monday, adding that she was moved to tears by the film after she figured out what it was trying to say. 

Another netizen, 36, wrote about his own experience watching the film, saying that he totally understood Joe's feelings as the character is just like him. 

"Even if you try your best, sometimes plain life cannot be changed anymore and you won't become a superstar. The film teaches me how to accept the reality."

Continued good word of mouth is a good sign for the film, which Shi predicts will finish its run with 350 million yuan.

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