I saw this incredible short film in school back in the day and truth be told, every now and then when I get a row of green lights in front of me, my inner Claude Lelouch jumps into the driver’s seat. Enjoy!
Claude Lelouche is a directing titan from France. His 1976 classic C’était un Rendez-vous is a single POV shot eight-minute breakneck race through Paris at 5:30 in the morning – with no regard to red lights or anybody’s safety as a driver races to a date to meet a woman on Montmartre.
Watching it you’ll wonder that nobody was killed. Claude claims that he placed only one person on the course to warn the driver if pedestrians were in the street. He also claims that he made it up to 200mph while filming, but nit-pickers on the Internet have carefully measured the distances between objects and intersections and shown that he was never going faster than 70 mph, which is still disturbingly fast on city streets.
Behind the Scenes:
Shot in a single take, it is an example of cinéma-vérité. The length of the film was limited by the short capacity of the 1000 foot 35mm film reel, and filmed from a (supposedly) gyro-stabilised camera mounted on the bumper of a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. A photo has surfaced that seems to reveal an Eclair cam-flex 35mm camera with a wide angle lens, and a typical "speed rail" hard mount—no gyros—on a Mercedes. This model, which could reach a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph), was only available with a three-speed automatic transmission. Lelouch drove his own car himself and claimed that the top speed achieved was around 200 km/h in the 1.3 km avenue Foch.. Lelouch also claimed during a "making of" documentary that the soundtrack was dubbed with the sound of Lelouch's Ferrari 275GTB, which has a corresponding number of gears and a V-12 sound that is quite distinct from that of any V8, including the 6.9 litre V8 of the alleged Mercedes camera car.
On the chosen course there were two people who knew to expect Lelouch. First there was Élie Chouraqui, his first assistant, who was posted with a walkie-talkie in the Rue de Rivoli, behind the archway exiting from the gardens of the Louvre palace, meaning to assist the driver at the only blind junction (archway); however, Lelouch has revealed that the radios failed, and if Chouraqui had tried to warn him of a pedestrian the message would not have been received. Anyway, the traffic light at that junction showed green. The other person who knew about his arrival was Lelouch's girlfriend Gunilla Friden. He'd told her he'd arrive within ten minutes at the Sacré-Cœur and asked her to appear upon his arrival.