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The French electronic duo AIR has launched their new album Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) with an NPR Music First Listen where it can be streamed in its entirety for a limited time. The album—which will be released tomorrow, February 7, on EMI’s Astralwerks Records—is an expanded version of their score for the stunning new color restoration of the classic 1902 short film Le Voyage Dans La Lune by the pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès. Band members Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel recently spoke to NPR All Things Considered about the project, which Entertainment Weekly called “a breathtaking fusion of music and moving image.”

A “Méliès Moment” has undoubtedly arrived in the U.S. 110 years after the creation of his masterpiece. In addition to the release of AIR’s album, there are now theatrical screenings of the Le Voyage Dans La Lune (along with a documentary about its restoration called The Extraordinary Voyage) that will be shown in select cities across the country over the coming months (see details below) with more to follow. Most telling are the numerous Oscar nominations bestowed upon Martin Scorsese’s new film Hugo, which features Méliès as a central character (played by Ben Kingsley) and imagery inspired by Le Voyage Dans La Lune.

Astralwerks will release special Limited Edition versions of AIR’s album (CD+DVD and Digital Download) featuring the fully restored colorized film with AIR’s original film score as bonus content. These editions are strictly limited due to licensing arrangements and will only be available for initial orders, and can be ordered at the following link: Le Voyage Dans La Lune

Le Voyage Dans La Lune film screenings:

Feb. 10–17 – Elinor Bunin Monroe Theatre @ Lincoln Center – New York, NY INFO

Feb. 10 & 12 – Northwest Film Center – Portland, OR INFO

Feb. 10, 12, 19, 21 – Filmbar – Phoenix, AZ INFO

Feb. 11-12 – Texas Theatre – Dallas, TX INFO

Feb. 18 & 19 – Cape Ann Community Cinema – Gloucester, MA INFO

Feb. 18-May 20 – SITE, CAA Arts Centre – Santa Fe, NM INFO

Feb. 20 – Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor, MI INFO

Feb. 25 – Aero Theater @ American Cinematheque – Santa Monica, CA INFO

Feb. 25 – Noise Pop Festival – San Francisco, CA INFO

Feb. 28 – Northwest Film Forum – Seattle, WA INFO

Mar. 3 – Cornell Cinema – Ithaca, NY INFO

Mar. 4 – The Flicks – Boise, ID INFO

Mar. 10, 13, 16 – Paramount Center for the Arts – Peekskill, NY INFO

Mar. 18-Apr. 3 – Green Mountain Film Festival – Montpelier, VT INFO

March 23-27 – Miami Beach Cinematheque – Miami Beach, FL INFO

Apr. 18 – International House – Philadelphia, PA INFO

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Le Voyage Dans La Lune is a classic silent film by revered French director Georges Méliès. Released in 1902, this legendary 16-minute film is widely considered one of the most important works in film history, and the very first to use science fiction as its theme, incorporating special effects that were very state-of-the-art at the turn of the 19th century. It was loosely based on two popular novels of the time: Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells The First Men In The Moon.

In 1993, a long-lost hand-painted color print, the only one known to exist, was rediscovered in Spain. It was in desperate condition, and so in 1999, two foundations—Fondation Groupama Gan and Fondation Technicolor—began the highly delicate preservation work of rescuing and digitizing the elements of the film. After many years of painstaking work, a magnificent restoration of the film was ready to be launched, allowing a 21st century audience to rediscover this major cinematic work.

Eager to put a contemporary spin on this classic silent film and reach a new audience, the foundations decided to approach AIR’s Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, to compose an original modern soundtrack, an enormous honor for French musicians, considering the film’s place in the canon of French cinema. With the aim of premiering at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, AIR set themselves a tight deadline, locking their studio doors and working around the clock to serve these classic images with brave new sounds. Complete with a new soundtrack by AIR, the film debuted at Cannes on May 11, 2011 to immediate and unanimous acclaim.

Spurred on by their work on this short movie, AIR decided to develop the project into a full album inspired by the film. Expanding the original musical themes beyond cinematic instrumentals, the album also features the vocal talents and lyrics of Au Revoir Simone and Victoria Legrand (Beach House). The band’s lunar fascinations have been evident since the beginning of their career with the release of the seminal 1998 classic Moon Safari. Now in 2012 Nicolas and JB have returned to explore the further regions of their very unique musical “space.”

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