Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Directed by Asif Kapadia and written by Manish Pandey, Senna is the story of the famed Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna who was considered one of the greatest racers in sport. The film explores the racer’s career from his debut at the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix to his shocking death 10 years later at the San Martino Grand Prix. Told through various footage of the man in and out of the race track, the film is a look into one of the most compelling figures in sports. The result is one of the most intoxicating but also heartbreaking films about one of the greatest racers that ever lived.

The film explores the life and career of Formula One racer Ayrton Senna who was considered to be the fastest man in Formula One racing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A man who was known for driving very fast in the rain as well as maintain a sense of consistency and drive as he would win three world championships in 1988, 1990, and 1991. In his native Brazil, he was considered a god though Senna was someone who often thanked or prayed to God for guidance. Senna’s death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 of that year was considered one of the most tragic moments in the sport as many questioned what went wrong on that day. Yet, the film is more about Senna and his legacy as it’s told through archival footage of his races including his early years racing go karts in the late 70s as well as audio interviews with those who knew him including his longtime rival Alain Prost.

Through these interviews and footage of the races, interviews, and rare home movies provided by Senna’s family, the film showcases the man as someone who was quite humble despite coming from an upper-class background. For the country of Brazil, he was a people’s champion that gave joy to the country during some of its most troubled times where Senna would use his fame and celebrity to help children in the country. Director Asif Kapadia keeps things simple by letting Senna tell his own story through these archival interviews as well as audio interviews from family members, the members of his racing team, and a few others. There’s also archival interviews with Alain Prost who was a teammate of Senna during their years as part of the McLaren racing team as they later became rivals that would intensify during the seasons from 1989 to 1991 where the two wouldn’t like each other. Yet, Prost and Senna would eventually renew their friendship in 1993 when Prost retired as he is part of the charity Senna had founded.

Kapadia would also use footage from Senna’s races to showcase the intensity of how he raced from the camera footage as it’s remastered by its cinematographer Jake Polonsky along with rare camera footage from interviews and other specials. Editors Chris King and Gregers Sall do amazing work in compiling the interviews and footage to help tell the story along with the audio interviews that are compiled by sound editors Stephen Griffiths and Andy Shelley. The film’s music by Antonio Pinto is brilliant for its mixture of ambient music and traditional Brazilian music to play into Senna’s identity as a Brazilian.

Senna is an incredible documentary film from Asif Kapadia about the life of Ayrton Senna. It’s a film that fans of the late Formula One racer will love while making it very appealing to those unfamiliar with the sport as it tells the story of a man who was a true champion of the people. In the end, Senna is a magnificent film from Asif Kapadia.

Asif Kapadia Films: (The Sheep Thief) - (The Warrior (2001 film)) - (The Return (2006 film)) - (Far North) - Amy - (Ali and Nino) - Diego Maradona (2019 film)

© thevoid99 2015


Brittani Burnham said...

I always thought this sounded interesting despite not knowing a lot about Formula One. I'll have to check it out sometime. Great review!

thevoid99 said...

It's a film I've been meaning to check out for years as I finally decided to watch it. It is way better than I expected it to be though I still know very little about Formula One.

Chris said...

What a great documentary! Even for someone like me who doesn't usually follow formula 1 I still was totally captivated by the story. This is high on my top 50 docs of all-time list.

thevoid99 said...

@Chris-It's already in my top 10 films of 2010 as I also put in my WIP list of the best 150 films from 2010-2015.