C’était un Rendezvous

I almost for­got about this short film. Pretty cool one-take flick.1 Crazy dri­ving skills for sure. I guess its true to the con­cept that “90% of life is just show­ing up.“2

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C’était un Ren­dezvous (“It Was a Ren­dezvous”) is the cre­ation of the French film­maker Claude Lelouch in 1976. Using a Mer­cedes 450SEL early one August morn­ing, Lelouch attached a cam­era to the bumper of the car and sped through the streets of Paris. (The sounds of a Fer­rari 275 GTB were added in post-production.)

He gave the dri­ver a set route from Porte Dauphine, through the Lou­vre, to the Basil­ica of Sacre Coeur, which is straight through the heart of Paris. The dri­ver is still unknown to this day, because Lelouch was never able to obtain a per­mit to close the streets. The dri­ver, who Lelouch told offi­cials was an F1 racer, went over the speed limit and blew off many red lights.

When this film was first shown, Lelouch was arrested, and because of this, the footage has spent many years under­ground before it began to resur­face on DVD a few years ago. Lelouch used a new tech­nol­ogy of the time, a gyro sta­bi­lized cam­era mount, in order to mount the cam­era on the car. The prob­lem with this is that the tech­nol­ogy of the time only allowed for a ten minute film with this mount. Lelouch told his dri­ver to rush because of this time limit, and the video itself is only about nine min­utes. In our veloc­ity graph, we used all footage of the car when it was in motion.

  1. It seems that this type of film tech­nique is an exam­ple of cinéma-vérité. Cinéma vérité is a style of doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ing, com­bin­ing nat­u­ral­is­tic tech­niques with styl­ized cin­e­matic devices of edit­ing and cam­er­a­work, staged set-ups, and the use of the cam­era to pro­voke sub­jects. []
  2. As quoted from Woody Allen. []

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