Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has teamed up with legendary French film maker Claude Lelouche to pay homage to one of the most famous pieces of motoring cinema ever – and illegally – created.
The story goes that Lelouch, a giant of French cinema, wanted to shoot a short film through the streets of Paris in 1976. He asked permission to close some streets for a short period of time but his request was knocked back. So he did what all good artists do, and went ahead with the film anyway.
Strapping a 35mm camera to the front his personal Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9, Lelouch took the streets at 5:30am and for the next 8minutes 27seconds blasted through the city of Paris at breakneck speeds, estimated at one point to nudge 200km/h.
Running red lights and even mounting the kerb at one point, Lelouch’s epic blast through the city ends with an early morning rendezvous with his girlfriend, giving the short film its title C'etait un Rendezvous.
But while the Mercedes provided the camera car, it was Lelouch’s personal Ferrari 275 GTB and its glorious and sonorous V12 soundtrack that proved the hero of the film.
Lelouch opted to dub the Ferrari’s thunderous V12 soundtrack to the film, rather than use the Merc’s less raucous engine and exhaust note.
Interestingly, that brown Mercedes 450 SEL, still owned by Lelouch, finally got its moment in the cinematic spotlight in 1998 when it appeared in the 1998 movie, Ronin, involved in one of that movie’s famous chase scenes.
While rumours circulated around C'etait un Rendezvous for years – everyone one from F1 stars Jacques Laffite to Jacky Ickx were named as drivers – it was Lelouch himself who did the driving, according to the director.
Not officially released until 2003, C'etait un Rendezvous remained an underground legend among car enthusiasts the world over, its myth and mystique enhanced by its illicit nature. You can watch the original below.
Now, the director has teamed with Ferrari and the Principality of Monaco to pay homage to the original, titled Le Grand Rendez-Vous.
Filming took place yesterday around the streets of Monaco which would normally have been buzzing with F1 cars last weekend. Instead, Ferrari F1 star Leclerc got behind the wheel of a Ferrari SF90 Stradale and with Lelouch directing, created a modern version of his epic 1976 masterpiece.
The streets of the Principality were closed between 6:45am and 9.00am last Sunday to allow filming to take place and, this time, entirely legally. According to Ferrari, Leclerc hit speeds of 240km/h while guest appearances include HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco.
“It was an amazing day, and amazing experience,” said Leclerc, a Monaco native after filming. “I was a bit scared of the four-wheel drive in the beginning but I have to say I’m just extremely impressed.”
The film will be released on June 13.