From BAFTA winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, Senna is an insightful portrait of one of the most prolific talents and likeable personalities in sporting history.
For this engaging documentary, a rich tapestry of footage from the era and of the F1 hero’s life is cleverly woven together to create a moving and in-depth portrayal which is not only for racing fans – or even sports fans in general – but for any film fan with an appreciation for engrossing storytelling and exciting cinematography. And although the focus of this documentary is on Ayrton Senna, no sides are overly favoured from the perspective of the filmmakers – a refreshing rarity in the genre.
Senna was driven, passionate, fiery on the track, but often subdued and softly spoken off it. This is portrayed masterfully by the filmmakers but you also see the side of Senna who struggled with both the politics of the sport he was born to compete in and his own exceptional ability which he was always trying to improve on.
Watching from the perspective of inside Senna’s various cars through his career is breathtaking. You’re not just sat in the seat with a fast F1 driver, you experience the sport’s most naturally talented driver to date and his willingness to take it to the edge and push the limits of his body and mind, as well as the car’s capabilities.
With Senna, winning a race with ten laps to go with only a sixth gear wasn’t impossible, it was a challenge. And like most of the other challenges that he put himself up against, he rose to and defeated it.
He was the shining beacon of a country that had little else to believe in at the time and I think the biggest tragedy of his premature death was the void that was left behind in the hearts and minds of all of his devoted fans and followers. This is revealed emotionally and expertly throughout the picture via interviews with his fellow countrymen and peers.
His mindset and personality are also communicated perfectly through the fast-paced editing and from the eclectic range of footage which has been found, compiled and put together with every bit as much care and precision as the impressive motors on screen.
With the enigmatic Senna, sharing home video moments of a family boating holiday are every bit as insightful, moving and compelling as being thrust into action as he wins Grand Prix after Grand Prix.
Director Kapadia and co. deliver a documentary full of spirit and passion to compliment the subject’s unique and unforgettable personality. Senna is a gripping documentary full of insight into the politics and transitions of a sport and its most memorable participant, at a time when it was men competing, not machines.