C’était un rendez-vous (1976)

(Downloaded, May 2008) This isn’t a film as much as it’s a showcase for Claude Lelouch’s cinematic concept: It’s a single-take nine-minutes race through Paris streets early in the morning. There’s no dialog and no story, the barest plot being provided with the reunion of the driver with a woman at the end of the reel. The footage is reportedly untouched and not sped-up in any way, but the audio has been sweetened by overdubbing F1 engine sounds. It doesn’t sound like much, but the impact of the film is cumulative: the first minute is “meh, okay, he’s driving fast without stopping”, but as the film keeps going on, the impact of the race through Paris and its landmarks get more and more impressive and the suspense of seeing it all happen without a hitch just grows until the end. The clip is sometimes mentioned in lists of “best car chases”, which is really stretching the point. But since it’s widely available on YouTube and other sources, check it out and fill a tiny gap in your knowledge of automobile film history.

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