Very few sequels are better than the original. The Godfather Part 2, The Empire Strikes Back, and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey come to mind. So when Ford set out to remake the 1976 short film ‘C’etait un Rendez-Vous,’ we were, shall we say, trepidatious.
The original film by Claude Lelouch, a cult classic among auto enthusiasts, uses a camera mounted on the front bumper of a car to document a highly illegal and incredible thrilling early morning drive through Paris.
We see the car ignore red lights, drive the wrong way down one way streets, and even drive onto the sidewalk to avoid a garbage truck. When the car finally pulls to a stop, we see the driver running in front of the vehicle to embrace a young woman, and the screen fades to black.
The nine minute drive truly captures the passion that many of us feel about driving. It’s about getting where we’re going, to our loved ones of course. But it’s also about how we get there.
Ford’s recreation ‘Re-Rendez-Vous’, made with virtual reality in mind, does very little to change the style or look of the original. Both films were made at dawn on mostly empty streets, similar camera mounts, and almost exactly the same route and scenery.
Currently we only have one minute and thirty seconds of the iconic nine minute drive, and much of the hypnotic quality of the original is lost when the stream suddenly cuts to another street. We also don’t see if the Mustang commits any of the same traffic violations that make the original drive feel so urgent. A disclaimer at the beginning if the film states that Ford collaborated with Paris Police, so hopefully we won’t lose those great moments.
Ford promises to release the rest of the film online and as a virtual reality video later this month. Suddenly VR is sounding just a little bit appealing.
While other car makers have made homage to the original film in media, this film was created with the blessing of and assistance from Lelouch.
“I had goose bumps watching ‘C’etait un Rendez-Vous’ forty years later in virtual reality. At the time, my movie was about the feeling of freedom and the pleasure driving generates,” Lelouch said. “I knew that Ford would do more than just a tribute to the original in this new version.”
The preview for the new video actually looks great. Ford clearly took great pains to make it look like an updated version of the original. But more than just looking right, it gives us that feeling. The engine sounds are loud and urgent, the drive is made quickly and smoothly, the video really does give you the anxious sense that you are cutting it close for an unmissable rendezvous. It reminds us how fast and free we are in our own cars.
Plus, it is nice that the new film doesn’t resort to a bit of movie magic that took a little of the fun out of the original. Lelouch used a Mercedes 450SEL for the drive but added the tire squeals and engine note from his Ferrari 275GTB in post-production. Significant advancements in camera and microphone quality over the last 40 years made it easy to use the natural sound coming of the Mustang.
Since 1976 Claude Lelouch’s film has been shown, reminding us all how beautiful and exciting driving can be. With this update, Ford brings that sense to a new and modern world, plus they get people talking about this Mustang.
This is what we call a win win win.