C'était un rendez-vous
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|C'était un Rendezvous|
Promotional poster for DVD release
|Directed by||Claude Lelouch|
|Written by||Claude Lelouch|
|Music by||Sound of revving car|
|Distributed by||Spirit Level Film (DVD)|
|Running time||8 min 38 seconds|
The film shows an eight-minute drive through Paris in the early hours of the morning (05:30hrs) in August 1976, accompanied by sounds of a high-revving engine, gear changes and squealing tires. It starts in a tunnel of the Paris Périphérique at Porte Dauphine, with an on-board view from an unseen car exiting up on a ramp (and from there following this route) to Avenue Foch. Well-known landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, Opéra Garnier, and Place de la Concorde with its obelisk are passed, as well as the Champs-Élysées. Pedestrians are passed, pigeons sitting on the streets are scattered, red lights are ignored, one-way streets are driven up the wrong way, center lines are crossed, the car drives on the sidewalk to avoid a rubbish truck. The car is never seen as the camera seems to be attached below the front bumper (judging from the relative positions of other cars, the visible headlight beam and the final shot when the car is parked in front of a curb on Montmartre, with the famous Sacré Cœur Basilica behind, and out of shot). Here, the driver gets out and embraces a young blonde woman as bells ring in the background, with the famous backdrop of Paris.
Shot in a single take, it is an example of cinéma-vérité[dubious ]. 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 3-speed automatic transmission. Yet, one can hear gear changes up into 5th, as well as heel-and-toe down-shifting with a high-revving engine indicating speeds of well over 200 km/h. Calculations made by several independent groups showed that the car never exceeded 140 km/h (85 mph). Lelouch himself claimed that the top speed achieved was somewhere between 230 km/h and 240 km/h. Lelouche 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 liter V8 of the alleged Mercedes camera car.
A making-of-the-rendezvous documentary indicates that Lelouch himself was the driver, that the car driven was the Mercedes, although the sound track is from a Ferrari. On the chosen track there were two people who knew about Lelouch arrival. First there was Elie Chouraqui, his first assistant, who was posted with a walkie-talkie close to the Louvre palace, meaning to assist the driver at the only blind junction (archway); however, Lelouch has revealed that the radios failed, and if Elie had tried to warn him of a pedestrian the message would not have been received. 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 Sacre Coeur and asked her to appear upon his arrival.
DVD Release 
In 2003, documentary filmmaker Richard Symons contacted Claude Lelouch and after six months of arduous talks, persuaded him the film should be restored from its original 35 mm negative and re-released on DVD. Symons' company Spirit Level Film now distribute the DVD worldwide.
Urban Legend 
Due to the content of the film it has become somewhat infamous for rumours surrounding the making of it and its exposition. Upon release it was not known who was driving the car and rumours circulated that it was either an unnamed F1 racer, a taxi driver or Lelouch himself. The biggest rumour surrounding the film however, is that due to the illegal nature that had to be undertaken in order for the movie to be filmed, the director Claude Lelouch was arrested upon the first screening. It is unknown whether this is true.
The route was as follows: Bd Périphérique (exits at Porte Dauphine) · Av Foch · Pl Charles-de-Gaulle · Av des Champs-Elysées · Pl de la Concorde · Quai des Tuileries · Pl du Carrousel · R de Rohan · Av de l'Opera · Pl de l'Opéra · Fromental Halévy · R de la Chausée d'Antin · Pl d'Estienne d'Orves · R Blanche · R Pigalle · Pl Pigalle · Bd de Clichy · (aborted turn at R Lepic) · R Caulaincourt · Av Junot · Pl Marcel Aymé · R Norvins · Pl du Tertre · R Ste-Eleuthère · R Azais · Pl du Parvis du Sacré Cœur.
The route measures 10.0 km long, which indicates an average speed of approximately 77 km/h (48 mph).
Comments attributed to Lelouch indicate that he acknowledges the moral outrage over his method of shooting this film as valid. He also states that he was prepared to take the risks in making the film, but that he however was also ready to drop it if he came across any unexpected risk (pedestrian, hurdle, etc.).
In popular culture 
In 2003 Nissan released a promotional DVD for the new (at the time) 350Z, entitled "The Run". It featured multiple camera views of a copper colored 350Z driving through the streets of Prague, ending with a rendezvous with a beautiful woman, an obvious homage to Lelouch.
In late 2009 a short film called "The Fast and the Famous," directed by Jeremy Hart, was released on YouTube. The film features Jay Leno behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS 'Gullwing.' During his circuit of Mulholland Drive, Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Drive, and Coldwater Canyon Drive, Leno makes several references to Lelouch's classic film.
In 2010, Jeremy Clarkson used the film as a basis for the opening scene of his DVD/Blu-ray 'The Italian Job'