In 1976, French film director Claude Lelouch strapped a 35mm film camera to the front of a car, and ‘someone’, drove the car at speeds of up to 200kph through the early morning streets of Paris, without any permission from authorities.

During the 8 min film, at least two pedestrians come within feet of being hit, cars are narrowly missed, and 18 red lights are run. The whole thing was completely illegal.

To dispel a couple of myths, the car used is not a Ferrari as widely believed, but a Mercedes. The likely reason for the confusion is that the sound of a Ferrari was dubbed on later by the Director.

According to the Director’s official website, and from my working knowledge of French, it seems that Lelouche is saying these days that he was the driver of the car. This would make sense, a Director with an interest in fast cars is unlikely to make another person take such a risk for his film. The ‘race car driver’ story likely comes from the Director’s own excuse to Police after he was arrested. He claimed he took adequate precautions, hiring a racing car driver for the stunt, but would not reveal this mystery driver’s name to police.

Other interesting tidbits are a friend of Lelouche, with a walkie talkie, kept an eye on one particularly dangerous junction on the route, but this was the only precaution taken. Also. It appears there were three of them in the car during the ride.

The film, entitled ‘C’etait un Rendezvous’, has achieved cult status over the years and is now available on DVD for ordering (worldwide) from Amazon UK, and I’d recommend it for any movie buff’s collection. For a quick, low res fix, here’s the same on Google Video, here’s a Vimeo embed…

If you speak French, or are handy with Babel Fish, you might also be interested in the Director’s own discussion forum for the film (link broken as of 2015).

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