September 13, 2004

C'Etait Un Rendezvous: a pure Parisian chase movie

That's the Louvre and a city bus in a still from Lelouch's Rendezvous, image: chasecam.com

And I thought Ronin had the most jaw-dropping Parisian car chase scene.

In August 1976, French director Claude Lelouch (who, it turns out, did the French segment of 11"09'01, the one where the deaf chick decides to break up with her boyfriend at 9:59 or something) had 9 minutes of film, a Ferrari 275 GTB, a gyro-stabilized camera and mount, and an idea.

He set a route through the center of Paris, from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre and up to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, strapped the camera on the bumper, and drove flat out through the (somewhat empty) early morning streets.

Rendezvous is the one-take artifact of that insane and illegal trip. Not technically a chase scene, maybe it should be called a race scene. It's the verite equivalent of the Hollywood-staged Sunset Blvd race in Against All Odds, and it ranks with the likes of Peter Yates' Bullitt and Friedkin's The French Connection for best car chase scenes ever.

With one difference: the obvious danger to bystanders during Rendezvous throws peoples' moral compasses out of whack. Some, like neonrebel, get all hot for the film, then suddenly turn all critical and judgmental, like a self-hating preacher after scoring a hooker. Others, like a writer for The Daily Express, show amazing lack of judgment when he calls the film "an automotive equivalent of September 11th footage."

Now you, too, can hate yourself in the morning; after decades underground, C'Etait Un Rendezvous is now available on DVD.

Buy Spirit Level Film's release of Rendezvous for $28.95 from Chasecam. Read neonrebel's review. [via the Sachs Report? Why didn't you tell me about him before?]

[9/17 update: Lelouch has performed another stunt this week, offering free nationwide screenings for his latest film, Les Parisiens, which got panned by critics.]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
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first published: September 13, 2004.

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