I fear that the biggest danger for the Senna documentary is that people will not give it a chance. Whilst I am a devotee of Formula 1 I would definitely recommend the film to someone who is not interested or even has no idea what it is. The film is not really about cars, racing or even sport, it is an insightful investigation into a phenomenon of human psychology.
One could be initially put off by the content, the term documentary and the occasionally grainy 80s and 90s original footage but 15 minutes would show anyone that there is a deep and very interesting human subplot which develops into an emotionally involving and dramatic finale. Senna goes a long way beyond the premises of a factual documentary and it is easy to look beyond the image quality to observe that development.
…original footage only serves to immerse…
In fact the direction is brilliant and the original footage only serves to immerse the audience in both the high-octane world of Formula 1 and the 1980s. Whilst there is insightful commentary it does not detract from the world created by the film – a world of passion, Machiavellian politics and one man’s life.
Ayrton Senna’s life was undeniably incredible and the film details his career in all of its drama. He was clearly a man of real aspiration, a true perfectionist and a brilliant talent but his piety, charity and the strength of his conviction are also demonstrated. At times it could be said to be a little melodramatic but for someone who was completely involved in the story I found it very powerful.
…had an inevitable ending…
The biggest fault I could find with Senna was that it had an inevitable ending and this is hard to put aside despite the magic of the film. I had been anxious about how Asif Kapadia would deal with such an emotive and serious event but it was covered in a tasteful and quite moving manner. For anyone who would dismiss the concept of Senna I hope I have inspired a few of you to give it a chance. It will surpass any expectations you may have.
Image courtesy of Karin Sturn