Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Senna publicity still.

British director Asif Kapadia first feature film was The Warrior (2001) it contained some great cinematography and told the story of a journey from the deserts of Rajasthan to the snow capped Himalayas.  His latest work is another journey, a documentary about the Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna. Its rarely I would personally describe a documentary as being exciting and fascinating viewing, normally they do tend to run out of steam before they get their conclusion, but Senna (2010) is different. The film is entirely made up of brilliantly edited archive footage from Formula One’s own archives and interestingly enough from the archives of the Senna family who fully cooperated with Kapadia.

Senna doing what he does best.

Ayrton Senna was one of the most charismatic and talented racing drivers of all time, a national hero to the working class Brazilians, proved by the massive turnout at his funeral, and treated by his worldwide fans like a rock or movie star.  The documentary starts with his Go-Kart racing as a young fledgling driver and ends with his death at the San Marino track in 1994 at the age of 34 when a suspension arm pierced his helmet after a wheel came off his car whilst travelling at high speed. For me the most interesting aspects of the film were Senna’s rivalry with Alain Prost and how Formula One’s politics favoured the European drivers. Documentary film making at its best, it won both Best Documentary and Best Editing at the BAFTA’s and can be enjoyed by even non motor racing fans.

Senna with his great rival Alain Prost.

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