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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