“Spiritual Journey”: Hope in Ordinary Life

Compared with the theme of “Death” in “Dream of Dreams”, the theme of “Spiritual Journey” is equally grand and profound. It discusses the “meaning of life”.

In the movie “Spiritual Journey”, “light” can be seen everywhere: Picasso-style stick figures, simple and clear stories, “Why do people live” is too abstract, and “death” has always been a taboo. And do not want to touch on the topic. Unexpectedly, Pixar expressed it in such a “lightweight” way, and this is undoubtedly the most healing movie of 2020.

What has shaped the real you? At the end of 2020, Pixar Animation Studios brought us the biggest surprise-“Spiritual Journey”. This is a movie that will not disappoint you no matter how high expectations you have before entering the cinema.

“Spiritual Journey” has unconstrained imagination and the most extreme humanistic care. The pictures, soundtrack, rhythm, etc. are all perfectly matched and impeccable.

How do you keep your name in this world
The protagonist of the story is a man named Joey. He loves jazz music and dreams of becoming a pianist.

But in real life, he is a teacher in a middle school in New York, and he can only listen to children playing music with incomplete tone every day. Ideally plump and realistic, he is just one of thousands of ordinary people. Eating, going to work, sleeping…day after day, year after year, Joey’s life is a true portrayal of most people.

In Joey’s calm life, the only bright spot was that one day he was photographed by a well-known jazz band and had the opportunity to perform on stage. Joey thinks that he was born for this day, for this bright moment.

But on the day he was about to participate in the performance, he accidentally fell into the sewer and died. He has been doing nothing all his life, waiting for an opportunity, but on the day the opportunity came, he had an accident. Such a life is not only frustrated, but even a bit funny. Joey was unwilling to end his life like this, and a strong idea screamed in his heart: You can’t die! How could you just die like this? ! At least today shouldn’t be the time to die!

Between the electric light and flint, Joey’s soul was separated from the body, and his appearance became a small person with gleaming blue fluorescence, a soft waxy texture and fuzzy edges, and this was what his soul looked like.

Pixar unleashed his imagination and created two alien spaces related to the soul outside the material world. One is called “The Beyond of Life”. Here is a bridge across the sky, all around it is pitch black, only the other end of the bridge has the sky full of light. And on the bridge stood thousands of souls like Joey, waiting to go to the sky. Another alien space is called “The Place of Birth”, this is the first stop to the earth, dreamy and ethereal, there are countless souls staying here. These souls are blank, just like white paper that anyone can write on. Obtaining the Earth Pass here, and then jumping from here to plunge into the earth, it is tantamount to reincarnation.

The ultimate three questions in life-who am I? Where am i from Where are you going? Obviously, “the other side of life” answers the question of “where to go”; while “where you are born” explains the questions of “from where” and “who am I”.

Every soul is pure and mouldable in the “being born”, whether extroverted or introverted, positive or negative, all are cultivated here, so before going to the earth, a person’s personality characteristics are already destined Up. Personality is cultivated, so what determines the uniqueness of each person is the “spark”, which is also the key to obtaining the Earth Pass. Many celebrities on the earth will serve as the mentors of the souls here, guiding the souls, allowing them to find a spark of interest in the earth, and thus obtain the qualifications to go to the earth.

Among them, there is a special soul named Twenty-Two. She has been here for thousands of years and has been baptized by mentors such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Copernicus, President Lincoln, Boxing Champion Ali and other mentors. She has heard too much about the earth, and for her the earth is the same, it is not worth visiting at all.

By coincidence, Joey became Twenty-Two’s new mentor. In order to return to Earth as soon as possible, the two hit it off. Joey helped Twenty-two find the Earth Pass, and Twenty-two gave him the Earth Pass for use. In this way, Joey can return to Earth, and Twenty-two no longer has to be forced to get the Earth Pass.

Facing different attitudes in life, Joey and Twenty-two showed the two most vivid examples. If you already knew that life was going on before you were born, would you still be willing to come here? Twenty-two’s attitude is determined not to come!

After seeing Joey’s life, Twenty-two strengthened this idea. She couldn’t understand: She was doing nothing all her life, working for her life, eating, going to work and sleeping every day, she was often poor and embarrassed and frustrated, and she was the most mediocre in the crowd during her life. What is there to miss in such a life?

But when the chance to do it again was in Joey’s hands, this man who had been mediocre in the eyes of Twenty-Two, still desperately wanted to return to the world. Even if he is the most inconspicuous one in the crowd, his dream is never affirmed, and hard work is hard to be rewarded; even if he does work that he does not like to make money every day, he is crowded in the boring subway every day. However, he did not hesitate to use any means to return to the world.

Why did you come to the world for what? Is this world worth it? When Joey tried his best and tried various methods in order to return to the world, the film also asked the audience all the time: What is all this for?

While Pixar’s animations are wild and creative, they also gently ask everyone’s heart, touching topics that seem to be clichéd but are always moving.

In the film, there are two very clever settings in “The Place of Birth”. In this hometown of souls, “selfless souls” and “lost souls” occasionally come here. When you are in a daze, immersed in music, focused on paintings and other moments of ecstasy, your soul will be out of the body and return to the “where you were born” for a short period of peace and baptism.

However, ecstatic souls occasionally turn into lost souls, because once they are too obsessed with certain things and it takes too long for the soul to leave the body, the soul will be lost and become a giant monster wrapped in dust, unable to find a way back. . In the film, a fund manager who is obsessed with making money and forgets about life is the most typical lost soul. Joey has always felt that jazz music is his life, and he came to the world for jazz music.

This feeling of being fully immersed in one thing is really good, but when he finally had the opportunity to perform on stage, he found that he was not as happy as he thought. At this time, someone told him a story: The young fish wanted to find the sea and asked an older fish. The older fish told it that you were in the sea. The young fish said there is only water here, where does the sea come from?

The young fish pursued the sea without selflessness, neglecting the water around him, and lost in the sea that he was struggling to pursue. Isn’t Joey so? He pursued his dream of jazz music ecstatically, but lost his way in life.

Twenty-two, this blank soul, instead allowed it to discover more aspects of life. The hairdresser who often talks to Joey about jazz music turns out to have his own story, but he only talked about jazz with Joey, and never wanted to ask about his life in the past; the mother who often opposed Joey’s pursuit of jazz music, heard it The son will also support him when he speaks in his heart, but he is always reluctant to speak his heart to his mother.

Joey, a person who does his best to live, even if nothing is done, still wants to return to the world. In fact, he doesn’t understand life, and he doesn’t understand it in this life.

If Pixar’s last “Dream Travel” is about how to face death, then “Spiritual Journey” is about how we experience life and how to feel life. What is the meaning of life? It is great to have a dream, but it is also great to be able to truly enjoy the current life. Even if nothing is accomplished, it doesn’t matter. The life of listening to the wind, watching the falling leaves, and smelling the fragrance of flowers is also very precious.

Accepting the ordinary does not mean mixing eating and waiting for death. On the contrary, only by recognizing the ordinary can you let go of your anxiety and feel life better.

“Spirit of the Mind” creates a world of soul in a brisk and lively way, and concretizes those seemingly empty concepts in our imagery, and uses animation as a medium to present the imagination as innocent as a fairy tale, and at the same time full of deep meaning.

It is very possible that the “spark” that ignites our lives is not the goal, but the passion for life-the moment when the yellow leaves in autumn circle and fall, the moment when the sun shines on the body, the moment when the aroma of pizza enters the taste buds. , The moment when a stranger smiles at you…

From concept to lens
“Spirit of the Mind” is directed by Oscar Award and Animation Anne Award frequent guest Peter Dougert. “Toy Story”, “Flying House Tour”, “Brain Squad”, “Monster Electric Company” and other high-score masterpieces are all from him.

The little souls presented in the movie are vivid and lovely, but it is difficult to destroy the creative staff during production. What should the mind be like? Director Peter Dougert believes that the mind should be smoke-like, non-material, without a fixed shape, or be able to breathe. They followed this line of thought and tried to draw a lot of spiritual forms.

After many artists’ thoughts and discussions, they found the most suitable substance for soul making—aerogel in an industry that sounds completely unmatched. This is the lightest solid substance on earth, and it is often used in the aerospace industry. It is similar to an immaterial form, but it can be clearly drawn with a paintbrush.

After determining the material, you can design a specific image for the soul. Pixar artists have designed various interesting versions. But they hope that the minds can still be closer to the human form, have clear five senses, and be able to express emotions. Therefore, they finally chose the version originally designed by the director. Make some facial expressions to better convey your inner thoughts.

So the creative team thought that since the soul represents a person’s heart, the rich inner activities can be expressed in different colors! They also developed a new technique to highlight specific shapes through strokes. After several months of creation, they finally determined what the soul character looks like.

After the image is designed, the next step is to adapt it to Pixar’s complex 3D animation synthesis system. Basically, when Pixar releases a new movie, it will break through the limits of 3D animation capabilities. In “Monster Electric Company”, they improved the hair rendering ability of 3D animation; in “Finding Nemo”, they showed the ability to generate water with 3D technology; in this “Mind Travel”, they made a breakthrough Limit, developed a series of tools that have never been done before, in order to deal with the problems encountered in the production, especially the treatment of light.

When light hits the soul, it will scatter in a different way. They need to control this scattering so that they can distinguish the soul from other things. If the soul is too transparent, the audience will not be able to see them. expression.

The soul exists in the concept of light, and has a prism-like sense of light for lighting. The challenge here is to create a look that can strike a balance between softness, lightness, and sufficient clarity to make the shape and performance recognizable. The smaller and more complex shapes of the face are achieved by modeling and binding animated lines to highlight contours or wrinkles. In addition, contour lines are generated around the hand to enhance its readability and clarify the posture. After solving the image of the soul, it is necessary to design the image of the counselor in the Mind Academy. This can be regarded as the most difficult image design in the film. They hope that the image of the counselor is neither a human being nor a soul, nor an angel nor a God, but an image from other worlds that is distinguishable from everything.

Pixar’s artists drew inspiration from sculpture, nature, lighting and Picasso’s paintings, and finally decided to present the instructor in the form of lines. In the film, these counselors say that they are “the universe itself”, but simply use lines to simplify it into a form that is easy for people to understand. But don’t think that one line is easy. Artists have worked hard on it.

Pixar artists use iron wires to make the shape of the instructor, and then use lights to project the image made of these iron wires onto the wall to form a shadow. The wire statue is 3D, but the shadow formed is 2D, which allows the counselor to be in between 3D and 2D at the same time. If this is the case, then artists cannot make production according to traditional 3D animation. They give the instructor a flexible, complex and distinctive sense of movement by studying the shape, movement, and expression of lines.

At the beginning of the film, it is mentioned that the protagonist Joey is crazy about jazz, so music has become a clue throughout the film, or that jazz is like another protagonist.

Pixter wanted to find a very powerful jazz musician John Botis at the helm, and all the jazz in the film was written by him. In addition, in the movie, Joey’s hand movements when he plays the piano are completed by an animator who animates John’s movements. There are also some body rhythms when playing the piano, which is also made after imitating the real state of John playing the piano.

At the end of the special 2020, this movie ironed everyone’s anxiety well. No sensationalism, no chicken soup, in the dreamy picture and wonderful soundtrack, it naturally soothes our hearts.