Netflix’s animated musical Over The Moon is landing on the streaming platform this month. This film presents a modern take on the Chinese legend about the Moon Goddess Chang’e, who lives at the dark side of the moon, awaiting her beloved Hou Yi for thousands of years.
It was this legend that the young girl Fei Fei held onto when she finds out that her widowed father is ready to fall in love again. Building a rocket to the moon, Fei Fei sets out on an adventure to prove to her father that Chang’e and undying love truly exist.
Voicing the Moon Goddess Chang’e is Philippa Soo, who is best known for her role as Eliza Hamilton in the Broadway musical Hamilton. According to the actress, she first learned about the Moon Goddess through her Chinese-American father who would read Amy Tan’s The Moon Lady to her as a child.
“It was beautifully illustrated and it made me very proud to be Chinese and very interested in my Chinese heritage,” shared Philippa in a virtual interview with the Philippine press.
“And when I [read in the script] that Fei Fei was building a rocket ship to the moon, I was immediately taken back to my own childhood when I was building things in my yard and all sorts of places. So the fact that this film celebrates this young woman’s journey, I was just so happy to be a part of it.” She added.
This film adds a modern twist to the Moon Goddess, making her a superstar up on the moon. This is best expounded through her musical performance of Ultraluminary which you can watch below.
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Philippa also said that to give voice to the larger-than-life Chang’e in the film, she took notes from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and the world of Kpop at large.
“I was just so interested in finding that very heightened performative aspect of this Goddess. But it really wasn’t until I saw the costume design that Guo Pei had contributed to Chang’e– her look and what she wears and how she dresses, that it clicked and I was like, ‘Aha… Okay, [so] this is where the bar is set. Now I got to get there.’ And that was really fun to find and explore.” Philippa explained.
Still the story of Chang’e is there because, despite her radiant appearance and extravagant performances, she’s still that downcast Moon Goddess who just wants to be with her beloved Hou Yi.
Thus, we see these two sides of Chang’e in the film: one that is filled with life and energy, and the more traditional character who communicates grief and longing to the viewers, with her shift in emotions often accompanied by her different costumes.
“I think that the [film’s] animation is so beautiful and the design is so beautiful because we’re seeing so many different styles throughout this film and that really contributes to the storytelling. It moves us,” says Philippa.
“We see [Chang’e] in one outfit that makes us feel like we’re in the future and then we see another outfit that almost makes us feel like we’re in the past and at the same time, it makes us feel sad. And that’s the power of art and the power of design. There’s something about it that just takes us to a different place.”
Join this wondrous and emotional journey of Fei Fei and the Moon Goddess Chang’e when Over The Moon drops on Netflix this October 23. The film also stars Cathy Ang as Fei Fei, Ken Jeong, Sandra Oh, and John Cho, with the direction of Glen Keane.
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Homestream images from Over The Moon’s ‘Ultraluminary’ music video and Disney+ on Twitter.