The October 23 release of Netflix and Pearl Studio’s “Over the Moon” was greeted with rave reviews from viewers and critics alike. Reaching No. 1 on Netflix over the weekend, Over the Moon puts a modern spin on the classic Chinese legend of moon goddess Chang’e（嫦娥）, in which one Chinese girl named Fei Fei sets off on a journey to find Chang’e by building a rocket to the moon. Adventure ensues as resourceful Fei Fei, accompanied by her the rambunctious Chin and faithful rabbit sidekick Bungee, constructs that rocket and takes flight to prove Chang’e’s existence in honor of her mother. Fueled by the love of her mother, Fei Fei overcomes every obstacle in her path and achieves the impossible.
With an all Asian-American voice cast, Over the Moon dives deep into the importance of family, tradition, and what it means to move forward. As our unlikely heroine faces her fear of letting go, the viewer is taken on a visually spectacular expedition of vibrant colors and captivating songs. Over the Moon is truly one of its kind and a must-see for all who admire the stunning artistry of Chinese culture and the importance of tradition in an increasingly globalized world.
The very best of Chinese development can be seen throughout the film. In reference to the ultramodern high-speed Shanghai Maglev train, it fuels Fei Fei’s inspiration for a successful rocket launch. This magnetic levitation train is the third commercially operated Maglev in history, after the English British Birmingham Maglev and the German M-Bahn. Despite this, it is the oldest commercial Maglev still in operation today and the first commercial high-speed maglev with a cruising speed of 268 mph (or 431 km/h). This makes the Shanghai Maglev the fastest commercial electric train in the world. As Fei Fei develops her blueprint for getting to the moon, the magnetic maglev concept is used for her rocket. How does she construct the lunar rocket? Through e-commerce retailers of course. An emphasis on Chinese e-commerce can be seen as Fei Fei orders rocket ship parts from e-commerce giants that appear to be Alibaba and JD.com, thus highlighting the significance and accessibility of online suppliers in China today. Here, science, technology and space exploration are critical to Fei Fei’s prosperity and China’s society as a whole.
Not only science, but Chinese culture prevails at the forefront of this story. As the legend of Chang’e takes center stage in Over the Moon, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations are represented in Fei Fei’s family gathering to celebrate togetherness and love that features a feast of traditional Chinese cuisine that includes mooncakes! In the film, the song “Mooncakes” allows those not familiar with the popular baked good to experience the magic of mooncake-making and learn how this Chinese tradition brings families together to share a variety of scrumptious recipes. Even after the Mid-Autumn family dinner when Fei Fei launches into the sky, the prominent lions normally seen guarding the Forbidden City are spotted in vivid shades of red representing happiness, good fortune and success, where they protect the young Fei Fei and Chin from harm as a rocket malfunction leads the guardians to escort the two explorers straight to Chang’e. Through Fei Fei’s eyes, we see everyday life in China as multi-faceted, with Chinese culture being the anchor in every character. It’s a special aspect where together, these characters “create something greater than that each of them could do on their own,” the voice of Chang’e Philippa Soo reflects.
Perhaps the most “ultraluminary” feature of Over the Moon is Chang’e. In the myth of the moon goddess, Chang’e is separated from her one true love Houyi after taking an elixir of life. Living on the moon, Chang’e waits for her love to return to her and provides light to guide the way. Though the legend has many iterations, Chang’e’s story has survived generations and will be retold for centuries to come. Dressing and performing like a modern C-pop idol, Over the Moon’s Chang’e takes a seasoned, more old-fashioned character and turns her into a contemporary technicolor version of the folktale who is much more than just a myth. In this film, she feels, she dreams, and ultimately wants what every person wants – love and understanding. In this perfect marriage of traditional and contemporary, Over the Moon teaches us that Chinese heritage transcends space and time to usher us into the modern, present-day world.
Netflix’s newest animation ultimately teaches us that if you give love, you’ll find love. And if you give love, you’ll find your family; the more you give, the more it grows - something that Chinese customs have taught us since the beginning. Chinese culture lends a space to creative thinking and unique thought, preserving tradition while encouraging modernity. Rooted in Chinese legends and myths, Over the Moon shows us we are never alone. The greatest gift we have is each other.