C’était un rendez-vous

On a quiet Sunday morning in August 1976, when most of Paris was asleep or on vacation, French film director Claude Lelouch took to the streets in his Ferrari 275GTB (or did he?). In the space of 8 minutes, he travelled 10.6km (6.6 miles) across Paris’ city centre at full speed and captured the run on a bumper-mounted 35mm camera. The resulting footage was released as a short film titled C’était un rendez-vous, which translates to It Was a Date.

The film depicts Lelouch running red lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, going the wrong way down one-way streets, and using the pavement to avoid a truck. Routing around famous landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde, the one-take film concludes at the Sacré-Cœur looking out across Paris, when Lelouch’s girlfriend arrives and the driver dashes out to meet her. I would wager that even for those not into car culture, this one is still a gripping ride!

As short films go, this one is shrouded in all sorts of legends and mystery. Lelouch later revealed that he filmed it using his Mercedes 450SEL, and dubbed the sound of his Ferrari in for better effect. Other rumours suggest Lelouch was arrested after the release of the film, and that it subsequently went underground, mainly being pirated amongst motoring enthusiasts. Whatever the truth, the mystery is part of the charm, and the film has reached cult status amongst motoring scenes globally

Finally, I’d been waiting to write this post as the director had announced he was filming a sequel/2020 version, and I thought it would make great timing. Well, that version was released last month, and frankly, it was beyond terrible. Essentially it boils down to a weak posing piece for Ferrari and the Prince of Monaco. You can watch it here, but you’ve been warned.

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