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The story of the monumental life and tragic death of legendary Brazilian motor-racing Champion, Ayrton Senna. Spanning the decade from his arrival in Formula One in the mid 80's, the film follows Senna's struggles both on track against his nemesis, French World Champion Alain Prost, and off it, against the politics which infest the sport. Sublime, spiritual yet, on occasion, ruthless - Senna conquers and transcends Formula One to become a global superstar. Privately, he is humble, almost shy, and fiercely patriotic, donating millions to his native Brasil and contemplating a life beyond motor-racing. Yet he is struck down in his prime on the blackest weekend in the history of the sport, watched live on television by 300 million people. Years on he is revered in Formula One as the greatest motor racing driver of all time - and in Brasil as a Saint. Written by
Upon being hired, the director Asif Kapadia knew little about the life of Ayrton Senna and Formula 1. This was the intention of the producers, so he had a fair look at the film material. See more »
At the end, a title card referring to Senna's fatal accident reads "There has not been a fatality in Formula One since." While it is true that no driver has since died in a Formula One race, three track marshals have died during a Grand Prix since 1994; two of them before the making of this movie (Italy 2000, Australia 2001, Canada 2013). See more »
Seventeen years after the passing of one of the greatest Formula 1 racing drivers of all time a documentary has been released that examines his ten-year career in the sport. Directed by Asif Kapadia ('Far North,' 'The Warrior') and produced by Universal and Working Title, 'Senna' shows the audience the untapped potential and brilliance of the Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, while also examining the rise of this shy, young Brazillian boy; from go-karting circuits to a televisual audience of millions. 'Senna' is as moving and touching, as it is interesting and captivating.
Born Ayrton Senna da Silva to wealthy middle-class parents in the Santana district of Sao Paulo, he always had a dream of becoming a racing driver and began by driving in the Karting World Championships until he was approached to join Formula 3 for the 1983 season and then Formula 1 for the following season. From his first controversial podium finish in the Monaco in Grand Prix in 1984, two things were born; an intense rivalry with the future French Formula 1 champion (and soon to be team-mate) Alain Prost and a desire to race, dominate and win which would see Senna not only claim three World Championships, but also lose his own life on the track.
Where Kapadia's 'Senna' documentary works is in its ability to appeal to wide array of audience members. For the fans of the Formula 1 racing there is a copious amount of footage documenting select races and the events taking place around his career. Rather than use cutaway segments to show various celebrities and sports men and women discuss their memories and recollections of Senna, Kapadia instead utilises a voice-over to accompany the archive images on-screen. By allowing the voice-over of the various people associated with Senna (most notable this consists of McLaren's team principal Ron Dennis, his mother, father and sister, F1 team Doctor Sid Watkins, and Brazilian commentator Reginaldo Leme) to supplement the footage, it both preserves he power of the on-screen image and provides the audience with additional information regarding the situation or event that is being presented.
While for the casual viewer who may only know of Ayrton Senna in passing, there is the psychological unravelling of a man trapped in a boy's body. Senna is shown not to be ignorant of the politics of Formula 1, but simply uninterested, he was always that middle-class boy from Brazil who only wanted to race, win and repeat. There is also an interesting inclusion of footage of Senna as a modern hero of the Brazilian people, he's shown as the racing driver who transcended the social and political problems of a nation on the edge of poverty and economic instability and provided them with ray of light and joy that was unfortunately extinguished on the 1st of May 1994. 'Senna' is a brilliant and moving examination of a rising sporting star caught up in the whirlwind of politics, rivalries and stardom, when all he wanted to do was race and win by any means necessary, not for the adulation of millions, but his love for sport so close to his heart.
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