Speed of a Car: C'était un Rendezvous

The Physics Factbook
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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C'était un Rendezvous is the creation of the French filmmaker Claude Lelouch in 1976. Using a Mercedes 450SEL early one August morning, Lelouch attached a camera to the bumper of the car and sped through the streets of Paris. (The sounds of a Ferrari 275 GTB were added in post-production.) He gave the driver a set route from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, which is straight through the heart of Paris. The driver is still unknown to this day, because Lelouch was never able to obtain a permit to close the streets. The driver, who Lelouch told officials was an F1 racer, went over the speed limit and blew off many red lights. When this film was first shown, Lelouch was arrested, and because of this, the footage has spent many years underground before it began to resurface on DVD a few years ago. Lelouch used a new technology of the time, a gyro stabilized camera mount, in order to mount the camera on the car. The problem with this is that the technology of the time only allowed for a ten minute film with this mount. Lelouch told his driver to rush because of this time limit, and the video itself is only about nine minutes. In our velocity graph, we used all footage of the car when it was in motion.

screen capture

To make a distance-time graph for Claude Lelouch's trip, we tried to mark off Paris landmarks such as large boulevards and restaurants. Between each landmark, we would record the times then, using MapQuest and Expedia, recorded the distances between each landmark. Lelouch traveled down some roads in the wrong direction, making our job tougher. When he was nearing his destination, the Sacred Heart Basilica, he made a number of twists and turns down streets we could barely find on maps. Luckily we found a large restaurant, Le Consulat, on a one-way street.

Time
(s)
Distance
(m)
Speed
(m/s)
Speed
(km/h)
Speed
(mph)
0 0      
11 90 8.2 29.5 18.3
47 1,590 41.7 150.0 93.2
56 1,740 16.7 60.0 37.3
120 3,740 31.3 112.5 69.9
131 3,940 18.2 65.5 40.7
171 5,190 31.3 112.5 69.9
189 6,290 61.1 220.0 136.7
221 7,590 40.6 146.25 90.9
232 7,790 18.2 65.5 40.7
249 8,390 35.3 127.1 79.0
253 8,440 12.5 45 28.0
264 8,620 16.4 58.9 36.6
280 9,220 37.5 135.0 83.9
303 9,780 24.3 87.7 54.5
346 10,780 23.3 83.7 52.0
376 11,120 11.3 40.8 25.4
388 11,220 8.3 30.0 18.6
430 11,300 1.9 6.9 4.3
451 11,400 4.8 17.1 10.7
  distance-time graph
   
  speed-time graph

Africa Belgrave, Stephanie Ma, Brittany Mejia, and Bridget Ritter -- 2005

External links to this page:



Physics on Film pages in The Physics Factbook™ for 2005


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