If it's crap ... We'll tell you
The poster says it all really, a documentary of a Formula 1 driver which has, agaimst all the odds, managed to touch the hearts of critics and win audiences around the world. The fact that this documentary ever even got a green light is enough to illustrate just what an influence this man was. To most, he was a racing driver, but to those who knew him well, he was nothing short of a legend.
It is worth begining by discussing why this has taken so long to be created. Because of the very business-oriented working of the FIA, and because the family did not wish to see his name glorified for the sake of money, it took a very long time for Asif Kapadia to convince that he wished to show the tru life of Senna, both on the track and off of it. After many lenghty discussions and meetings, he recieved the green light, and began to talk to the racing drivers, friends and those closest to Senna.
All footage, commentary, and interviews used in this are original, and much has never been seen in over 25 years. The FIA provided exclusive access to rare video from news stations, and those that followed the Formula 1 teams. Asif's goal was to provide a truely personal insight, while still doing the business of telling the story.
Ayrton Senna was a Brazillian born racing driver who, during the late 80's and early 90's set the Formula 1 stage alight with his flair, bravery, character, and sheer un-Earthly car control. The opening sequence from the 1984 Monte Carlo Gran Prix almost sums this up. In a soaking wet track, he set a furious pace, finding grip and speed where none should even exist. He was a new talent, and had firmly set his place as a driver to watch.
Over the years, he simply got faster and more determinded. This led to one of the great rivalries in motorsport - between Senna and Alain Prost. The rising star, versus one of the best drivers of his time. Despite racing for the same team at McLarren, they constantly saught to out-perform one another. This led to many controversies, internal fighting, and in essance, all the aspects you wish to see between to great rivals.
The movie also deals with the darker side of the sport, in the political and financial mindsight the FIA had. Senna was never afraid to stand up to this, fiercely fighting for better safety for the drivers, and fairer decisions in the rules. Many saw him as the voice for all who wanted to see F1 at it's best, and not merely a showcase of technology and publicity.
There is a very touching view into Senna's personal aswell, the money he donated to the poor in Brazil, his love for his country, and his strong faith in God. Seeing the dangerous and fast-paced sport he took part in, it is easy to see why he obtained a spiritual side. He was in many ways, a flawed person too, who was not immune to mistakes or errors. But he always strove to improve, and never lose dedication.
What Senna is most loved for however, is his driving. And this documentry diaplays some of his very finest moments. Some were controversial, such as the two Championship deciders at Suzuka in Japan, to his almost Zen-like mentality through the narrow street course of Monte Carlo. He took a 1,500bhp monster machine that would spin the wheels in fourth gear, and make it behave and look like an art form. Even as a spectater, it is a truely magnificant sight to behold, and an era that will never be seen again.
Of course, the film does deal with the tragic events in his life, mainly that which happened at Imola in 1994. I will not spoil the events for those who have not read the details, but from the very begining, the level of tension built is almost unbearable. The moments that did occur brought a silence to the theatre, the likes of which I have never experianced in my life. It was one of the cinematic moments that will remain with me forever.
This documentry, on the front, might not appeal to everyone, who might glance over it for being a motorsport documentry. But that would be missing the point here completely. Yes, Ayrton was an F1 driver, but he was so much more, and meant so much more too. His skills on the race circuit are World-renowned, and drivers young and old, speak of him with the highest respect. To his fans in Brazil, he is a Saint, a man who was a shining light of hope in what were, very desporate times. And his charity work brought happieness and support to millions.
This movie, tells his story with a love and personality that is rarely seen in other documentaries. Instead of simply stating the facts and figures, it provides you the imagery, and lets you engage in the story of his life. This is without doubt, one of the best films I've seen all year, an incredibly emotional, exciting, clever, and most of all, human look into the life of one of the greatest drivers that has ever lived.
This is, and only the second time I've given it this year to any movie, a Better Than Sex film. It is everything you wish from a heartfelt documentary, and more besides. If this is screening at your local cinema, don't miss the opportunity, experiance it for yourself. Senna has long been remembered, this will no doubt cement his place in the minds and hearts of the public.