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    The Original Dashcam Video Is an 8-Minute (Very Illegal) Rally Through Paris

    Written by

    Brian Anderson

    Features Editor

    Nowadays, dashcam videos are all about cataloging helicopter flybys, sheep attacks, and road-rage fails, and of course providing highly-detailed analyses of freak astronomical events. In 1976, dashcam videos were all about driving real fucking fast.

    That's the spirit behind Claude Lelouch's Rendezvous, at least. Shot in a single take through the streets of Paris at dawn, the eight-and-a-half minute whiteknuckle burner is arguably the first entrant in the dashcam genre.  

    It's not only a testament to deft wheelhandling, brazen disregard for the well being of unwitting bystanders, and sheer luck. The driver, who may or may not have been a random taxi driver, a F1 racer, or Lelouch himself, blows numerous red lights, dodges garbage trucks, and drives the wrong way on one-way streets. At one point, whoever is behind the wheel rips through the one blind juncture in Lelouch's pre-plotted route doubly blind—Elie Chouraqui, the only assistant on Rendezous' guerilla "set" who stood near the Louvre, walkie-talkie in hand (she could talk directly with the driver), saw her two-way comms crap out last minute. 

    Time-stamped route, via Wikimedia Commons

    Rendezvous was an exercise in state-of-the-art vérité filmmaking. Lelouch used a gyro-stabilized camera mount, the highest of high-tech for the time, to affix the camera (if you're wondering, it was probably, maybe an EClair cam-flex 35mm with a wide-angle lens) to the front bumper of what's now believed to have been a Mercedes 450SEL. The irony was that riding along the cutting edge found Lelouch under considerable time constraints, as the 1,000-foot 35mm film reel Lelouch shot the thing on has notoriously short capacity.

    And so he told his man, or whomever it was tasked with wending through the dawn-y thoroughfares of Paris, to step on it. In the end, they made it out alive with just under nine minutes of gloriously fast, light-traily footage. Lelouch was promptly arrested, but only after the film's closing shot: a lover's embrace at an overlook rendezvous. The virality and physics of driving around have never been the same.