Take one Mercedes-Benz 6.9, strap a fancy camera to the front of it, and drive it at a blistering pace through the streets of Paris at 5:30 in the morning, and you’ve got the entire idea behind Claude Lelouch’s famous 1976 short film C’etait un Rendezvous. This weekend, when the principality of Monaco was scheduled to be shut down for its now-cancelled Grand Prix, Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc will recreate the cinéma-vérité fell of Rendezvous.
Monegasque authorities have confirmed that roads will be closed between 6:45 am and 9 am on Sunday to facilitate filming of the new short film. It is suggested that the new version will be called “Le Grand Rendez-vous”.
Interestingly, the Lelouch requested Paris close the streets used in his film, but that request was denied. Forging ahead with the project anyhow, Lelouch went on a highly illegal speed run through the heart of France’s capital. Only Claude, his assistant, and his girlfriend knew of the run at the time.
The film was not officially released until 2003, existing prior only as pirated rips of the original film. This video was a staple of early YouTube car enthusiasm, and was linked thousands of times on forums all over the internet. I wonder if Leclerc’s upcoming version won’t carry the same gravitas without the secretive underground and outlaw nature of the original.
C’etait un Rendezvous may have been filmed with a Mercedes, but the final version was dubbed over with a roughly matched Ferrari 275 GTB exhaust note. It’s quite obvious to anyone who knows about driving that the audio is wrong, but when I first saw it as a young teen, I wanted to believe hard enough that I convinced myself it was really a Ferrari.
The video has been a staple of the car community for decades, and has been imitated but never duplicated over the years. For example, Ford recreated the whole thing in 3D video, working with Lelouch, calling it “reRendezvous”.
Not so many people remember the Ford version, and I fear that is exactly what will happen with this sanitized and polished version that Leclerc will make this coming weekend. Then again, I hope I am wrong.