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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
Despite a limited release, it set a UK box office record for a documentary of £375,000 on its opening weekend. 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 »
My local cinema is only small, it only has two screens and consequently, to make money, they have to show a lot of mainstream films. Most of these don't interest me too much and I sometimes despair that they will ever show anything like this. So you can imagine my surprise when the weekly email I receive from them listing the upcoming films included this little gem. I've had it on 'The List' (that's my 'To See' list for those that don't know) for some time and always thought I'd end up seeing it on TV. But no, the Picture House are showing it! Admittedly it's only for two screenings, but they're actually showing a film I never thought I'd see on the big screen.
Two of us went to the first screening; myself, a Formula One fan for many years and my buddy Dave, who isn't into Formula One but is a bit of a connoisseur of film. He had heard about this one and was interested to give it the once over. The film tells the story of the Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna from his early days in carting through his rise to fame and fortune in Formula One to his untimely death in an accident in 1994. We are told about the feud he had with fellow driver, Alain Prost, and the battles they had both on and off the track. How he dealt with the politics of the sport and how he became a huge star, giving hope to millions, back home in Brasil. And also the thoughts of those involved in his life and career.
I love the way this film was put together, there is no commentary and no interviews with people made after the fact. It's all archive footage and interviews, mostly with Senna himself, that tells the story. As has been said many time before, real life can be so much better than fiction and this story has so much drama and emotion in it I firmly believe, in this case at least, it's true. The section of the film concerning his death I remember watching events unfold live on TV very well. It was the blackest day on Formula One history and I don't think I'll ever forget it. In the film it is very emotional and even Dave admitted to shedding a manly tear at one point.
To many, Ayrton Senna was the greatest driver ever to race in Formula One. I'll admit that I wasn't his greatest fan when he raced; I wanted the British drivers to win (of course). I always admired his talent though, and now I know more about him I am inclined to think that, yes, he was one of the greatest. This is a truly remarkable film and one I can highly recommend to fans of the sport and those that don't follow it. It's a remarkable story and one I'm sure you will find yourself thinking about for a long time afterwards.
My Score: 9.2/10
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