Claude Lelouch's "Rendezvous"

Hang on!This isn't so much a film as a full-on fang through Paris in a Ferrari 275 GTB. My old man used to have a business renting out management training and motivational films. He had the Australian rights to this film. The trainers used to put it on when they thought the young executives/middle management were bored or losing concentration in a session.

It's only a short film - nine minutes. But those nine minutes are fairly intense. "C'était un Rendezvous" ("It was a Rendezvous") was made in 1976. Thirty years ago. But it holds up well. Nothing like it had been done before and nothing like it has been attempted since. This is a new DVD version made from the old 35mm film stock restored and remastered.

The story goes that Lelouch had made enough money from his classic "Un Homme et une Femme"("A Man & a Woman") to buy himself a Ferrari, which he proceeded to thrash around Paris in.

Whilst shooting another film, a new bit of equipment was being used - a gyro stabilised camera mount. Lelouch then came up with the idea for "C'était un Rendezvous". The camera used only had a ten minute film magazine - hence the mad dash to Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre.

On first showing, Lelouch was supposedly arrested. In his defence, he proclaimed he had taken all possible precautions. This included convincing a Formula One driver to helm the car (he refused to name him).

Lelouch's electrifying 9 minutes drive has to be seen to be believed. No car chase on film has, or ever will, come close. The reality of no special effects, edits, or blocking off streets is terrifying.

"It makes Bullitt look like a cartoon" --- Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear, BBC)

"A once in a lifetime experience, it can never be repeated - no one is that insane!"Now put your helmet on, buckle up your full-race harness and go for a fairly lively drive across Paris with a 35mm camera fixed to the front of a Ferrari. Oh...and turn the sound up.

I do know two pieces of trivia about this. One - Lelouch had arranged for a mate to stand guard with a walkie-talkie ("talkie-walkie" in French) at one of the more dangerous intersections at the bottom of le Champs Elysées. If there was no call it meant that Lelouch could go for it. And he did. At 150k.p.h through the intersection. He found out later that the walkie-talkie had flat batteries and the mate couldn't call even if he wanted to.

And Two - Lelouch had to appear in front of the Parisian Commissaire de Police for a please explain. The Police Chief berated him for the number of road rules he'd broken and read the riot act. But in the end he said his children were great fans so there'd be no charges.

Try counting the number of red lights he runs for a start. The French are good at that.

"Rendezvous" is available on DVD. Try this mob - There's also more interesting facts and trivia on that site.

Reader Comments (6)

That was unreal, Mal - especially when you live in Paris and know all the streets! He must have done it early Sunday morning on a holiday weekend - roads are still quite empty at such times, so it's still theoretically possible maybe! Sending it to all our friends, at the risk of inspiring copycats ... BTW, your link wouldnt work for us - heres' another one:
January 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOzzie
Bastard link! I fixed it. One / too many at the end GGRRR
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlambe, paris
That's awesome. I'll have to show it to others.
January 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJordan
I bought the video on ebay. Very exciting. But, I suspect it's missing footage or is another version than the film I saw in 1976/77 preceeding a Woody Allen movie. In that version, during one of the high speed straight away shots, a pack of cyclists crosses his path with one stragaler barely squeeking by. He (cyclist) had to stand and sprint to make it across his path just in time. The version I saw had excellant sound and I remember him rapidly double clutching down from 5th 4th 3 2 1 before the turn around the Arch de triumph . Where is that original release? Someone find the original. It played before the movie "Manhatten" in an Ellensburg, Washington movie house. Sorry bout spellin'
July 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMcmike, San Francisco
I don't remember seeing "a pack of cyclists" in the 70s 16mm version. I'll check it out. You could be right.
July 29, 2006 | Registered CommenterMalcolm Lambe
Oooh my god ! When I first saw this movie I was 8 years old. This movie changed my life. I love all things French and Ferrari. It still makes me grin from cheek to cheek. So much so it almost made me cry. Thank you so much for posting the greatest 9 min of film ever shot.

Cheers, Mate
September 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterColin

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