VSL // Want to race through Paris at top speed?

In 1976, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch came up with a simple yet rather radical idea for a short film: He mounted a camera to the hood of his sports car and drove like a maniac through early-morning Paris. The result is the thrilling and hypnotic C’était un rendez-vou (It Was a Date).

Shot in a single take, the nearly nine-minute film shows Parisian landmarks flying by as the unseen driver (Lelouch later admitted he was behind the wheel) illegally speeds through the gray streets, taking one madcap hairpin turn after another with only the sound of shifting gears and squealing tires as a soundtrack. Dangerous? Oh yes — countless red lights are blown; cars and pedestrians are narrowly averted; and there are some very lucky pigeons. (Lelouch was arrested after the film’s first public screening.) But the film is hold-your-breath mesmerizing and, in the end, utterly romantic as we discover why the driver is rushing (hint: l’amour).

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