Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Paris, at high speed, in a single take

Here's a fascinating short film from 1976 titled "C'était un rendez-vous", by French director Claude LeLouch.  It was shot in a single take, without repeats or splicing in other segments.  Wikipedia tells us:

The film shows an eight-minute drive through Paris in the early hours of an August Sunday morning (05:30hrs) -- August, when all Paris is in vacation --, accompanied by sounds of a high-revving engine, gear changes and squealing tyres. 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 slip road 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, centre lines are crossed, the car drives on the pavement to avoid a rubbish lorry. 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 kerb 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. 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.

There's more at the link.

Forty years after it was made, it's still a powerful piece of cinema.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode for best results.

I'm glad I didn't have to drive that for real!



Tim Newman said...

There's also a video on YouTube of a guy calling himself The Black Prince doing a complete circuit of the perepherique in record time on a motorbike back in the 1980s or 90s, with a camcorder strapped to the handlebars.

Anonymous said...

*Whew* He made it just in time as his lady friend was walking up the steps. Can't keep a lady waiting.

Anonymous said...

That reminds me of the video game, Pole Position, even to the engine noises. All it was missing was the other drivers.

-- Steve

diesel smoke said...

He had done that trip before. I lifted way before he did in a couple of corners. I can see why he was in a hurry. The lady at the end would be worth the ticket. Although I picture Inspector Clueso in a Citroen not doing as good a job of arriving in a reusable car.
Would like to see this done in a modern car.

Anonymous said...

Cute, but lots of sturm und drang for not much speed. I'm putting my money on very good post-production work, especially from the sound engineers. (For really good sound work, the intake howl from the 12 cylinder Ferraris in Frankenheimer's 1964 Grand Prix has this beat).

Anonymous said...

Wow! And were any pigeons harmed in this film, lol? Definitely pretty thrilling, hope no one was hurt from this drive.

BadFrog said...

Like Ronin on speed :)

Anonymous said...

"Cute, but lots of sturm und drang for not much speed"

It may not look as if he's going that fast, but knowing those streets as I do, making it from the Porte Dauphine to the the Sacre Coeur in 8.35 minutes is quite an accomplishment, even if helped by the absence of traffic. With regular light traffic, he would have only made it to the Arc De Triomphe, or maybe halfway down the Champs Elysees, in 8 minutes.