Raw talent and passion is a dangerous combination for an athlete. On the one hand, they will use this talent and drive for success to overtake the sport and break countless records. On the other hand, their blind passion for the sport may end up controlling them and swallowing their ability to see their life after their career ends. Ayrton Senna had the talent. He had the passion. He even had a humility that kept him attached to the real world beyond. His amazing, yet tragic, story and Formula 1 career had to be immortalized on film. Thankfully, the documentary, Senna succeeds in every way.  


In the mid-eighties and early nineties, Ayrton Senna’s Formula 1 career went from nonexistent to legendary faster than he could finish a race. He gained fame and trophies at such a blistering pace with no regard for the politics and money of the sport that his teammate, Frenchman Alain Prost, began to resent him for it. From there, Senna’s career took an unexpected turn into the politics, the deceit and the unfortunate underbelly of the international sport. Even this did not stop Senna from transcending racing and becoming a beacon of hope for his torn homeland, Brazil.

Filmed entirely from archive footage with interviews and sound bits in the background, Senna orchestrates the brilliance of Ayrton’s career and life in such a way that holds you on the edge of your seat. Personally, I don’t know much about editing, but Senna encapsulates what I imagine to be excellent editing. Every scene, every image, every phrase serve a greater purpose to provide an extra insight into the progression of Senna’s career and his character. Director Asif Kapadia mapped out the path of the film in such a way that for those like myself, who didn’t know Senna’s story, would feel the tension and revel in the unadulterated interviews that are so rare from athletes these days.

Modern rivalries such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal contain the same level of athletic hostility, but are dwarfed in comparison to the explicit, personal disdain between Prost and Senna. That kind of uncensored fire and passion is missing from competitions in modern times due to fines and irrelevant media input. Senna had a humility about him that allowed him to help his homeland in a way almost incomprehensible in today’s sports world. The most similar example today I can think of is Didier Drogba serving as an athletic ambassador for the war-torn Cote d’Ivoire.

Having no stake or interest in Formula 1, I found Senna to be absolutely invigorating. The excellent footage of the races and important videos taken of Senna during key moments helped fuel this documentary to an unheard of level. Documentaries often have to rely on indirect accounts and succeed without tangible evidence of the facts being presented. Senna avoids this and allows the amazing story to be told through Ayrton’s eyes.

If you have even the remotest of interests in cars and racing, Senna will keep you riveted from start to finish. Even if you don’t, Senna expertly evokes a range of emotions that gives you an idea of the fervor his career created and the iconic status he has retained in the F1 community.

    • Steph
    • April 10th, 2012

    so good! Thanks for reposting the link. Prost was such a twat, though.

  1. Reblogged this on Grand Prix Community.

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