“Senna” (2011) ReviewPosted: June 17, 2011
Formula 1, the fastest motorsport on the planet to date! Now I understand that many people out there are not fans of this sport, and therefore would probably not be interested in such a film. I have followed F1 loosely for a couple of years but through stories from my granddad I have encountered the name Ayrton Senna a few times, still known as arguably the best racing driver to have sat behind that multibillion pound speed machine. This film, directed by Asif Kapadia, tells the story of the spectacular life and sudden death of a, quite simply, great man.
When I went to see this film I knew the reality that it would probably only appeal to fans of the sport. However after watching the film you realise that the attention is taken off the racing side of his life and delves into the actual personality and background story of the Brazilian. Ayrton Senna da Silva started his Formula 1 career in 1984 and went on to win three world championships for McLaren-Honda. In racing, he was known for going for any gap to overtake, no matter how small whereas outside of the racing world, he was a celebrity and icon, especially to his native Brazil. The film focuses on Senna’s rebellious attitude towards the politics of the racing world, especially his battle against then FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre.
Known for the fastest man in wet weather conditions, the director and writer, Manish Pandey, shows the highlights of Senna’s ten year career, along with tremendous battles on and off the track with fellow racer and previous team mate, Alain Prost. The film follows the relationship between the Frenchman and Senna through the years of domination from both drivers, including Senna’s 1988 championship win, which saw the McLaren-Honda drivers win 15 of the 16 races in the year. These two men started off as good friends, displaying playfulness to the media. However as the racing between the two intensified, their relationship deteriorated to the point Prost refused to be in a team alongside Ayrton.
As I stated before, the film is very well directed to make sure that it is not directed purely at racing fans. When watching the film, I discovered what a genuine, nice person Ayrton Senna was; he stuck to his morals and stood up to authority and on top of this, he was aware of how fortunate he was to be a professional driver. Due to his great status in his native Brazil, Ayrton established a charity to which he secretly donated his earnings throughout his driving career, reaching an estimated $80 Million. Now everyone knows that the vast amount of money athletes receive is barely ever donated to charities, just showing the kindness of this man even further. The film is all made up of real footage, unlike most crummy documentaries that re-enact proposed events. I can hold my hands up and say that this film was truly an emotional ride; parts made me laugh, others caused me to feel empathy for Ayrton, to the point of being frustrated for him and even upset. As the story of the legend goes; Ayrton Senna’s life was ended at the young age of 34 in a racing crash at the San Marino circuit in 1994. Throughout the film, interviews with Ayrton show his understanding of the dangers of F1 racing and his huge care for fellow drivers when an accident occurred to them. However this does not take away the sudden distraught I could not help but feel after experiencing the footage of his final race.
I would recommend this film to anyone, race fan or not, as it displays a life of a human that we would all strive to be, not for his racing talent, looks or money, but for his generosity, care and passion for everyone around him. I feel privileged to have lived in the same era as Ayrton Senna, and since the film, he has become a true hero of mine and I’m sure he can inspire anyone who watches this brilliant film.
iHartMovie rating 4.9 out of 5.
By Ash Seward-Morris – a new addition to the iHartMovies team.
- Racing Towards God: Asif Kapadia’s Documentary Senna Screens at IFC in NYC (Notes from the Road) (popmatters.com)
- Senna: the Top Gear review (topgear.com)
- Senna, review (telegraph.co.uk)