Sacré Bleu!

by Kieran Healy on November 10, 2005

Via Jamie Zawinski comes C’était un Rendezvous. A short and very fast film:

On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris. The film was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit. The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up real one-way streets.

The film has been remastered and released on DVD. You can watch the whole thing here. (Big download: about 34MB.) Bump it up to full screen mode or twice the normal size to get the full effect. The middle third of the film, when he’s right in the middle of Paris, is just unbelievable, as he runs six or seven red lights, screams around garbage trucks and narrowly misses several pedestrians as he flies down narrow, cobbled streets. Apparently there are all kinds of stories about the film, including whether the director did the driving himself in his own car. Having just watched it, I’d happily insinuate I could drive like that, too.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Damien Mulley’s Blog » Blog Archive » Sunday the 13th links
11.13.05 at 3:39 pm
Crooked Timber » » That takes a lot of balls
11.17.05 at 12:48 pm

{ 77 comments }

1

Andrew 11.10.05 at 7:56 pm

omg thanks for that!

2

Dan Simon 11.10.05 at 7:59 pm

What’s the big deal? Looks like a perfectly ordinary ride in a Paris taxi.

3

Jake McGuire 11.10.05 at 8:05 pm

Along those lines, but on a motorcycle, and around the Peripherique rather than through downtown, and with German commentary for no obvious reason:

Pascal’s Ride Around the Peripherique

4

Tom T. 11.10.05 at 8:08 pm

I’ve been drinking. Before I click on the link, will the film make me puke?

5

Tom T. 11.10.05 at 8:11 pm

Apologies for the misplaced modifier. I realize the unlikelihood that the film is so nauseous that it will make me puke before I click on the link. However, God smiles on drunks, fools, and Americans, and since I am all three, I trust that you will figure out my question.

6

Jon 11.10.05 at 8:27 pm

Out there somewhere on the Internets is footage of a similar dash though Manhattan, but on a (push) bike, and through traffic. It’s quite extraordinary. If anyone recognizes what I’m talking about and knows the link, I’d be grateful…

7

Barry Freed 11.10.05 at 8:31 pm

Thanks for that enjoyable and exhilarating bit of French connection. Now that’s what I call driving. Of course, I’d be truly impressed if he were able to manage that and not spill any coffee on himself.

8

theophylact 11.10.05 at 8:34 pm

Saw it years ago. Thanks for the memory…

9

Jon 11.10.05 at 8:39 pm

Ah, here we are: try this, from here. “Drag Race.”

10

Alan 11.10.05 at 9:06 pm

Thirty minutes or it’s free. The Deliverator could learn a few tricks from that.

11

d 11.10.05 at 9:12 pm

I’d happily insinuate I could drive like that, too.

Yes, I’m sure you could. No. Really.

12

Belle Waring 11.10.05 at 10:14 pm

holy shit!

13

Matt McGrattan 11.10.05 at 10:21 pm

British TV had a ‘sanctioned’ one of these a while back. A police pursuit driver taking a liver for transplant from Luton airport into central London.

He had motorcycle outriders at key points stopping traffic so he was driving up main streets the wrong way at 120mph and so on. He was averaging something like 90mph through the centre of London in the middle of the day. Quite a lot of the time the roads were occupied and he just had the blue light on and foot to the floor.

It was truly amazing footage from a dashboard mounted camera.

14

Sherwood Smith 11.10.05 at 11:00 pm

Day-ammm, that was amazing. And it was good to see Paris again–or nine minutes of it.

My son, also watching, commented, “Those French guys have way too much time on their hands.”

15

ralph 11.10.05 at 11:03 pm

Is it my impression, or does Belle swear more often on this site? Belle? What do you think? Don’t get me wrong, I said the same thing sitting on my couch, I just didn’t type it.

16

Gavin M. 11.11.05 at 12:30 am

At those speeds, and with a car as responsive as that, it’s not as dangerous as it might seem.

Watch how the driver seems to make a snap judgment as to whether an intersection is clear or blocked, and then moves to the right and runs the red lights at full acceleration.

The faster he moves through a visibly clear (one-way) intersection, the lower the chance of his being hit — to a possible 0%, if the cross-traffic is moving slowly enough.

If a car does enter the intersection, watch how he steers in to its left, behind it: If there’s a reasonably normal amount of distance between that car and anything following it — down to a car length or two — he can cross the intersection in that ‘cushion of space.’

At 30MPH these are crazy maneuvers, but at 100MPH or so they become sort of tactical exercises.

Another thing is that the only genuine sound seems to be the engine (the tire-squeals seem dubbed, and there was definitely no audio from the driver’s compartment). One would imagine without knowing that the standard racing gear included a 2-way radio, with spotters on the route calling in hints and warnings. He only seems to back out of one bad situation, nosing into a street and then quickly changing course…

17

Seth Edenbaum 11.11.05 at 12:49 am

An act of simple amoral aestheticism, and the response is here is “Hey, neat!”
And then people start defending it as not really that dangerous.
Such sophistication.

No, kids. The point is that is is dangerous. It’s a big “fuck you” to all sorts of things. So the question becomes: do you defend such actions or not?

18

Gavin M. 11.11.05 at 1:00 am

Considering that the film was made almost 30 years ago, I think it’s safe to enjoy it purely aesthetically.

19

washerdreyer 11.11.05 at 1:32 am

Kieran, I’ve been looking (on and off) for a copy of this since I saw it on video four or five years ago. Thanks for the tip.

20

Kenny Easwaran 11.11.05 at 3:06 am

What does this have to do with riots?

21

Jake McGuire 11.11.05 at 3:53 am

Defend such actions against whom, and on what grounds?

22

Alex 11.11.05 at 5:31 am

Jesus, some people have no sense of humour at all, do they?

23

Simstim 11.11.05 at 6:03 am

Which would pacify Seth?

“WARNING! This show features stunts performed by professionals and/or idiots”

or

“WARNING! The following show features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Accordingly, Crooked Timber must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any stunt or activity performed on this show.”

I suspect neither.

24

Slocum 11.11.05 at 7:06 am

It would have looked more impressive in the days before ‘Need for Speed’, etc — the resolution on the games is higher. Yes, yes, we know that this was real and not a game, but visually, the experiences are nearly identical.

As for ‘not really that dangerous’ — I call BS. Some of those side streets were so narrow that there would have been no way to avoid a stray person stepping into the street from between parked cars or a car nosing out of an alley. There was a great deal of driving skill involved, yes, but also a lot of luck.

25

Belle Waring 11.11.05 at 8:13 am

re: #15 umm, more than other people swear on the site? or more than I usually do IRL and on my own blog? cause, I’ve been trying to tone things down, honestly…also, seth? lighten the fuck up.

26

Ray 11.11.05 at 8:30 am

USians tend to have a bit of a weird attitude to swearing. They’re only fucking words, after all.

27

Seth Edenbaum 11.11.05 at 8:36 am

Epater le bourgeois!
I have a sense of humor and, more importantly, an amoral streak (courtesy of my mother, who came from a good family.) But somehow I think if the stunt were pulled by a couple of teenage car thieves in Trenton NJ it might have gotten a more nuanced response.
And it would have been a better movie.

28

jet 11.11.05 at 8:40 am

For as pissed off as Europeans get about guns, they certainly have a rather more forgiving attitude towards unsafe driving.

29

Steve 11.11.05 at 8:45 am

Even more that swearing, I’ve noticed Belles’ Kerouacian ‘stream of consciousness hyperventilating mix of serious talk with adolescent swearing/exhiliration’ schtick. Kiss had makeup, Gallagher has watermelons, and Belle says fuck alot. She’ll outgrow it. Or we will.

Steve

30

Ray 11.11.05 at 8:46 am

If someone announced they were going to do this tomorrow, I’d try to stop them. But since this happened 30 years ago – and no-one was injured – what’s the point of outrage?

31

Belle Waring 11.11.05 at 9:18 am

aww, steve, you’re hurting my feelings. wait, who’s gallagher?

32

Bro. Bartleby 11.11.05 at 9:47 am

Yes, amazing. It reminds me of Bro. Juniper last month, he somehow managed to sneak the abbot’s old Schwinn Stingray inside the dining hall and in a bit of Tom-foolery, began zigzaging around the hall as the brother pelted him with biscuits. It too was an amazing stunt, considering Bro. Juniper is in his 83rd year.

33

Rob (Brey) 11.11.05 at 10:20 am

Wow! That was fun.

34

Steve 11.11.05 at 10:20 am

no no. Who the ‘fuck’ is gallagher?

35

Ray 11.11.05 at 10:22 am

I’ll be gosh darned if I know.

36

Jeremy Osner 11.11.05 at 10:39 am

I’ll just add my “yikes” to the chorus.

37

dsquared 11.11.05 at 11:40 am

But somehow I think if the stunt were pulled by a couple of teenage car thieves in Trenton NJ it might have gotten a more nuanced response.

ooooooooooooooooooeeoooooooo!

(I can’t do musical notation using only Textile markup, but basically I was starting at about an octave above A-440Hz with a steady glissando peaking about an augmented fifth higher for the “ee” and then jumping straight down to the mediant third for the final “ooooooo”. The number of letters roughly indicates the length of the notes)

38

Nick 11.11.05 at 11:44 am

reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up real one-way streets.

I’m sorry, is this something to be celebrated? The man should be locked up.

39

perianwyr 11.11.05 at 11:48 am

OK, put on “L’Via L’Viaquez” by the Mars Volta when you watch this. Fucking ownage.

40

Nick 11.11.05 at 11:56 am

On watching, this brings to mind the “suicide bombing as art” in Transmetropolitan, which Seth seemed to be getting at as well. If he’d crashed or killed, say, a couple of pedestrians, I’ll wager the film would still have been released and everyone would’ve made a nice tidy profit, and be remembered as artists.

The question I’d like answered is why people can’t imagine this sort of thing, how horrifically nihilistic it is, and decide that it’d be a bad idea – with positively evil consequences – to try it.

And, jet, I’m European.

41

washerdreyer 11.11.05 at 11:57 am

Ok, 27, this is beyond absurd. No one here is saying, “Oh, the driver is a hero, what he did was ethically proper and imposed no risks on anyone. People who dislike him are vile traitors, and everyone should behave that way.”

42

engels 11.11.05 at 1:03 pm

Gosh, Steve! Does she also listen to that evil “beat music”?

More importantly, 41 posts and noone has found a way of linking this with the elitist/anarchic/racist/Arab-loving nature of French society! Where are the trolls?

43

perianwyr 11.11.05 at 1:24 pm

The question I’d like answered is why people can’t imagine this sort of thing, how horrifically nihilistic it is, and decide that it’d be a bad idea – with positively evil consequences – to try it.

There’s a reason I’m not outside RIGHT NOW sticking a camera (which I have) on a car (which I have) and racing round the streets at 200kph. Your question is answered. Sheesh.

44

abb1 11.11.05 at 1:27 pm

Big fucking deal. I once drove right thru Naples, on a weekday at about 5 pm, and without a single scratch. Sweated off a few kilos.

45

Jeremy Osner 11.11.05 at 1:35 pm

Big fucking deal. I once drove right thru Naples

Yeah well I reckon my dick is even bigger! Why I once…

46

abb1 11.11.05 at 1:44 pm

Heh-heh.

47

Nick 11.11.05 at 2:33 pm

There’s a reason I’m not outside RIGHT NOW sticking a camera (which I have) on a car (which I have) and racing round the streets at 200kph. Your question is answered. Sheesh.

I wasn’t attacking watchers of the film; I was attacking its creators. If they had an imagination or a capacity for empathy, they wouldn’t have done it.

As was pointed out in the MeFi thread, the filmmakers were sociopaths.

48

jet 11.11.05 at 2:56 pm

What is interesting is how many knock-off’s of this movie I’ve seen (and never knew they were knock-off’s until now). But I’ve probably seen 20 amateur video’s shot of mid-night dashes through cities in Europe ad the US. Some were even cooler than this.

49

Seth Edenbaum 11.11.05 at 3:03 pm

My only point was how easy is is for academic, scholastic, intellectuals to revert to their adolescent personas as D&D’ers and PacMan enthusiasts.
Nick’s more worked up than I am. It’d probably be a better movie if someone got killed, though not much better. But since no one did, you get to enjoy yourselves with no more than a secret guilty little giggle; that’s what annoys me.
vroom vroom with the virtual go cart.. vroom vroom.

I’m not a moralist, I’m an art critic.

50

Jeremy Osner 11.11.05 at 3:16 pm

I’m not a moralist, I’m an art critic.

Rich, rich…

51

Ray 11.11.05 at 3:19 pm

“It’d probably be a better movie if someone got killed, though not much better. “

And _we’re_ the amoral aesthetes? You’re just determined to be annoyed, aren’t you?

52

Andrew Brown 11.11.05 at 4:08 pm

Surely half of the exhiliration of the film comes from knowing that here is a set of awful risks, which none of us would dare take in everyday life, and now one should ever have taken — and yet they still got away with it. It’s a score for humanity against the universe.

In some sense that film is the flip side of a completely healthy non-smoker dying at 45 of lung cancer. Neither thing _should_ have happened. but I think a little squirt of joy when we get away with it is just as reasonable as the stab of sadness when the odds go the other way.

53

Bernard Yomtov 11.11.05 at 6:02 pm

here is a set of awful risks, which none of us would dare take in everyday life, and now one should ever have taken—and yet they still got away with it.

If the only people at risk were “they” – the director and driver – that might make a smidgen of sense. But they weren’t the only ones. Why doesn’t that matter?

54

Malcolm 11.11.05 at 6:20 pm

Would the reaction be any different if it was someone running around shooting a gun at random in busy paris intersections? Car accidents are the leading cause of death for a person my age. Mr. yomtov at comment 53 hits the nail on the head.

I have to say I personally find everything about this film, from the filming to the obvious pleasure taken in watching it, quite disturbing. I’m sorry to say this because I know that however much people like saying this kind of thing themselves, they don’t like hearing it from others.

55

Malcolm 11.11.05 at 6:22 pm

I should correct my post above, car accidents are the leading cause of death for a north american my age. I assume the situation is similar in other priviliged countries, and possibly quite different elsewhere.

56

Luc 11.11.05 at 6:34 pm

I’m not a moralist, I’m an art critic.

If only the driver’s name was Abramovic, he was a she, the car was a loaded gun, and Paris would be Naples. Then it would be art. Also about thirty years ago.

Also back en vogue these days.

Flirting with death is art when it is an art.

57

Jon H 11.11.05 at 6:53 pm

My main concern is that, having arrived on the Internet, and becoming pop culture rather than an obscure bit of film, it’s bound to enter the awareness of the sort of person who sets himself on fire because he saw it on jackass.

Which means, there will probably be some morons trying this, coming soon to a town near you.

58

perianwyr 11.11.05 at 7:29 pm

yes because every time someone does a retarded thing it’s the fault of everyone else

59

Daniel 11.11.05 at 7:35 pm

It’d probably be a better movie if someone got killed, though not much better. But since no one did […]

There’s an old saying, popular in my part of the North, which goes “yes, and if my Aunt Sally had balls, she’d be my Uncle Sally”.

60

Nabakov 11.11.05 at 9:13 pm

I think it it’s a striking example of the lengths some men will go to when they wake up with a morning glory.

61

trotstky 11.11.05 at 10:33 pm

Congrats, folks, you’ve killed the link. Anyone know of a backup somewhere?

62

jet 11.11.05 at 11:13 pm

After rewatching it at home, on full screen, with the sound up loud, I’m withdrawing my previous comments. My work screen and tiny headphones couldn’t do it justice. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Trotstky,
I’ve got it on my home server but I’m bit eccentric about giving up my anonymity here, so how should we go about getting it to you? Any way I can give you the file without giving you my domain or anything traceable back to me?

63

Seth Edenbaum 11.11.05 at 11:50 pm

Marina Abramovic
I’m surprised to here that reference at CT.
Abramovic with or without Ulay represnts a sort of aestheticized reactionary anti-politics. There’s a long European tradition of that of which is the most famous practicioner in the last hunded years was Duchamp (though anyone who knows anything about the art world knows that such entertainment is still our bread and butter.)
Americans, seeing Duchamp as the inventor of conceptualism, have never managed to reconcile their partial understanding with the fact the referred to himself as a monarchist. Europeans quite simply get the joke. D’s critique of modernism was as reactionary as Sade’s. Monarchists are anti-bourgeois too (and court jesters don’t have to lie.)
I have no huge problem with Abramovic, but I think to understand her work is to see it’s limits.

One link

64

trotstky 11.12.05 at 2:30 am

Jet,

I appreciate the offer, but I’m not that savvy about file-sharing. Perhaps the host will come back up.

65

trotstky 11.12.05 at 2:39 am

Jet,

Actually, if you wanted to create an account at dropload.com, you could post it there. My address, for notification, is **boogabooga1114**AT**msn.com**

I’d be much obliged, having read the hype.

66

Ray 11.12.05 at 3:29 am

If you go to the second link above, at jerrykindall.com, there are links to three or four different sites that host the video.

67

bad Jim 11.12.05 at 3:56 am

I don’t get it. Isn’t this just an everyday commute?

68

jet 11.12.05 at 11:12 am

Trotstky,
Ray has pointed to this torrent, so I won’t put up the file on dropload. If you have a problem with the torrent, let me know and I’ll send it via dropload.

69

trotstky 11.12.05 at 11:26 am

Thanks, ray and jet.

Has anyone coined a word for what happens a gem way out on the long tail suddenly gains notice — and crashes all the servers that only have the bandwidth to handle obscurity?

70

lillemask 11.12.05 at 2:55 pm

It’s been Crooked Timbered.

71

Barry Freed 11.12.05 at 9:27 pm

69

Yeah, it’s been “slashdotted”.

72

Tim Lambert 11.12.05 at 10:10 pm

Someone has produced a really nice Google map with screenshots of the route.

73

david tiley 11.13.05 at 1:12 am

Da dum da (slowly) dadada (fast) da da da DAH (slower again)…

I can’t do it. Claude Lelouche made A Man and a Woman. For that theme song, he should die. THAT is a real crime.

Now I will just lie down and try and get that song out of my head.

BTW – there is a genre of videos on the internet in which cameras are jammed behind the windscreens of motor cyles so we can read the speedometer. Then they drive insanely fast on the highway. Now that is genuinely worrying.

74

david tiley 11.13.05 at 1:22 am

Ps – just like the linked video on post 3.

75

cm 11.13.05 at 2:43 am

German law has a category of misdemeanor called “gross mischief” (grober Unfug), which would probably include this type of activity.

With any type of mischief, after the fact when nothing bad has happened, there are always debates of the humorless vs. the amused, and often it is not entirely clear which side to take.

76

Dave.L 11.13.05 at 7:22 pm

Marina Abramovic
I’m surprised to here that reference at CT.
Abramovic with or without Ulay represnts a sort of aestheticized reactionary anti-politics. There’s a long European tradition of that of which is the most famous practicioner in the last hunded years was Duchamp (though anyone who knows anything about the art world knows that such entertainment is still our bread and butter.)
Americans, seeing Duchamp as the inventor of conceptualism, have never managed to reconcile their partial understanding with the fact the referred to himself as a monarchist. Europeans quite simply get the joke. D’s critique of modernism was as reactionary as Sade’s. Monarchists are anti-bourgeois too (and court jesters don’t have to lie.)
I have no huge problem with Abramovic, but I think to understand her work is to see it’s limits.

77

msf 11.14.05 at 11:47 am

Have the perpretators of this incredibly dangerous , illegal, and irresponsible act been prosecuted? If not, why not? Endangering the lives of innocent people for a film is despicable.

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