In the world of filmography, there have been many truly fantastic car scenes in some equally as amazing movies, whether it’s the Mustang vs Charger scene in Bullitt or even the numerous Bond Film car scenes they all wind up being fantastic, however, in the world of Short Films, not just do you hardly hear about them but due to a limited budget or an array of other things, they never seem to stand out like the rest do, however, there’s one which stands out from the rest and that goes by the name of ‘C’était Un Rendez-Vous’.
Otherwise known by the name of Rendezvous, it is a short film which was filmed way back in 1976 by Claude Lelouch and it features Claude himself driving what sounds like a Ferrari 275 GT/B blasting through the french city of Paris at about 5:30am on a Sunday morning in August while every Parisian is on their annual vacation, it’s a 9 minute film which certainly isn’t long but unlike other short films which can be quite hard to follow or difficult to get into, ‘Rendezvous’ is just simple & very easy to get into, there’s no music to distract you nor any voiceover work to follow neither – just pure V12 Ferrari symphony!!
So what is the plot?, well, Rendezvous doesn’t really have a plot at face value however, it only clicks at the end what the plot actually is – see, Rendezvous is actually a nine-minute long street race which starts from Port Dauphine and finishes 10.597 meters later at the finishing point the Sacré-Cœur Basilica which is out of shot by the end of the film where he meets his girlfriend coming up a flight of stairs, it includes sights such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, the Opéra Garnier, the Place de la Concorde as well as many others.
The best bit of Rendezvous is definitely the realism of it all, remember, it was 1976, GoPro’s weren’t around back then and cameras weren’t as small as they are now and CGI was way out of reach for short filmmakers and this was exactly the case of Rendezvous, it was all for real and only included one camera which was mounted onto the front of the car, add in the fact Claude only had two people who knew what he was doing, one of which, a guy with a walkie talkie to guide him through a tight archway onto a busy street and the second his girlfriend at the time, there was no shut roads or police blockades to guide him, this was all real and not staged one bit whatsoever.
Claude had to dodge real traffic and real conditions, these included dodging buses, multiple cars, pavement hopping as well as running numerous red lights and of course a mass amount of Parisians & tourists on vacation, this made it not just exhilarating to watch but also scary to create, see Claude done this film all in one shoot so he had no idea what he was going to get himself into, this made it even more exciting to watch as one wrong move and he was done for.
What’s really fascinating about it all though is how much Paris has changed since way back then, now of course city’s change over many many years – look at London for example but in Rendezvous, Paris is on the whole like a ghost town, there’s hardly any traffic, hardly any shut roads and due to the light traffic, there’s none of the infamous Paris traffic jams, add in the new roads which have come along over the years it’s weird to see an older Paris compared to the one we have now.
Rendezvous actually has a lot of things that bigger, more expensive films have, take Bullitt for example, the car chase scene between Steve McQueen & the baddies in the Charger, there is no music & no speech involved and it’s went down as one of the best scenes in a movie ever and this is exactly the same in Rendezvous, add in the tense watching & the fantastic driving in it and it has to be the best short film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.
The actual filming was done by Claude in a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 instead of an actual Ferrari and that was for a very good reason, the Mercedes had the pace of the Ferrari but ultimately due to its self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension which came in handy with Paris’ different road surfaces, this made the footage a whole lot smoother and easier to watch than the Ferrari could ever do, however, this brings me onto the only real issue with Rendezvous and that is the sound.
Now at the time of filming, Claude Lelouch was quite the filmmaker and had quite a bit of money and was able to buy himself both an actual 275GTB and the SEL, so when he was filming Rendezvous, it was easily possible to take the Ferrari, however, due to the different road surfaces, he took the SEL instead but instead of using the Mercedes’ glorious V8 soundtrack, he decided to dub the 275 GTB’s V12 engine note over the footage taken from the Mercedes which makes it the only issue for the film as in some places it doesn’t quite match up which is a shame as otherwise, it’s a fantastic film.
It’s such a fantastic film in fact that many a people and many a company have tried to recreate it in one way or another, these include Nissan’s 350Z promotional DVD called ‘The Run’, ‘The Fast And The Famous’ which included Jay Leno in an SLS AMG as well as many others, hell, even Turn 10 & Playground Games, the creators of the Forza Horizon series has a side mission which involves taking an Alpine A110 around a route based in Edinburgh to pay homage to the film.
If you haven’t seen it, I’d urge you to look it up as it’s truly fantastic and well worth a watch, with the way traffic laws, are getting these days, it’d be impossible to do something like that these days in a major city which makes it such a pleasure to watch, add in the phenomenal driving and amazing views of Paris and it’s truly something to behold, here is a link to the video on Youtube if you fancy watching it.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson