A maverick who felt the need... the need for speed.

Senna review

The best sports movies aren’t really about sport, but people.

Asif Kapadia’s documentary about three-time Formula 1 champion Ayrton Senna is about both.

A swashbuckling defender of fellow drivers’ safety who didn’t care about his own, Senna was a folk hero uncomfortable with his playboy lifestyle when his Brazilian countrymen faced poverty. And he was a driver who channelled his charisma into his instinctive, no-brakes wheel technique.

Kapadia ditches any backstory, narration or talking heads – the only new material is a handful of voiceover interviews, used sparingly for context and atmosphere – instead composing the film from archive footage.

And whether making a stand in pre-race drivers’ briefings (a coup of neverseen- before footage) or careering around rain-slicked corners in terrifying car-o-vision, Senna rewards that choice.

Some critics found Kapadia’s hero worship too unwavering, his portrait of arch rival Alain Prost too cartoonish. That’s missing the point: Senna is Amadeus on wheels, Prost his Salieri.

The structure resembles a live race, its full-throttle pace only pausing for game-changing pitstops in his career. Until that fateful weekend in Imola, when Kapadia slows to near real-time and, for one devastating moment, the sport and the person are locked in a tragic photo finish.

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User Reviews

    • FBLMartin1

      Oct 9th 2011, 16:08


      I was Never a Big fan of Ayrton Senna, I had the mis-conception, that he thought, (as Alain Prost once said), that because he believed in God, that he was invincible...this documentary film, shows the human side of Senna, and has changed my opinion of him altogether, it is a film about a man with a passion, and a dream, it shows the politics of the sport, that are still there today, it also shows his fight for the safety of himself and others, it also shows, how he was robbed of another title. He was a man who loved his country, and did plenty to help the poverty, as has been left in his legacy, this is a man that came from a karting background, (as many top drivers today have done, including now double world champ Vettel), and climbed rapidly to the top spot, with hard work, and determination. Hats off to Asif Kapadia, for changing my mind and passionately showing us the human side of him.

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