31 Aug
The rise & tragic fall of one of Formula One's greatest drivers

Senna is not only one of the best sports documentaries of recent memory, it’s one of the best biographies of recent memory period — no matter the industry or field of endeavor. The movie is brilliantly paced and edited, and although its clear that filmmaker Asif Kapadia had bottomless admiration (bordering on smitten) for the racing legend, Ayrton Senna is never lionized nor made to appear more than a man. In fact, it was his humanity — and ego, to many respects — that eventually cost him his life on that twisted corner of the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, on May 1, 1994. If you’re a Formula One fan there is no question you must see this film — but even if you’ve never watched the sport in your life (like the imaginary girlfriend, for instance), you will walk away with a wide-angle perspective of a very contradictory, proud, spiritual, complex individual — a perspective made all the more distinct by the hazy vintage film, voiceovers by close friends, and total lack of talking heads jarring you from the tragic yet inspiring tale at hand. The fact that Senna was one of the greatest athletes the sport has ever known only makes the story that much more poignant (for the record, being called “The best driver who ever lived” by someone of Niki Lauda’s stature is like being called the best dunker ever by Michael Jordan). Senna’s epic battles with longtime foil Alain Prost are followed with a deft precision and skill, illuminating behind-the-scenes tensions through incredible archival footage. At times I didn’t know what I enjoyed most, the in-car footage of these luminaries of F1 laying it all on the line, or the backstage flare-ups that divided the sport along battle lines (they do a fantastic job of making F1 president Jean-Marie Balestre look like a most corrupt French crony). When the credits hit the screen, don’t be the least bit surprised to see grown men who haven’t cried since childbirth patting their eyes self consciously. This one’s a winner.

Special thanks to Alpinestars for hosting the event… 

Leave a Reply