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June 26, 2011

Senna (2011)
Director: Asif Kapadia

Senna.jpg (320×200)

Synopsis: The career of ace Formula One Driver, Ayrton Senna – from his rise up the ranks in the 80s, to his tragic death in 1994.

Review: I must confess to approaching Senna as something of an agnostic to Formula One racing. It’s not that I don’t appreciate there’s a great skill and technique to driving, it’s just I believe that a true sport must involve the sportsperson generating the ‘power’ for their given event – and ultimately in Formula One, things are decided more by engineers and technology than the drivers (a point ironically proven in Senna, that for all Senna’s flair, he was only able to win three world championships due to the quirks of the team he raced for needing to have the best car/engine in a given season). What’s not in question though is that Senna is a fantastically made and wonderfully compelling documentary which has something for even the Formula One sceptics like me. It is brilliantly conceived and executed by Asif Kapadia, with the ingenious notion of eschewing the conventional documentary tropes of voiceover narration and talking heads, for a straight chronological presentation of archive footage that sees Senna play out close to an actual feature film. Obviously, the content is what makes the film engrossing, from Senna’s strangely messianic personality, to his fascinating rivalry with Alain Prost over a number of years, to the unmistakably morbid end-game of his death at the 1994 San Marino grand prix. I doubt if many fictional releases at the cinema over the coming months, will pack as much of a dramatic punch as Senna. (June 2011)

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