6 June 2011

Senna documents the career of legendary Formula 1 Driver, Ayrton Senna, and tragically the last decade of his life. Directed by Asif Kapadia (The Warrior), Senna follows the driver’s rise from the go-kart circuit to his final Formula 1 race.  Along the way we get to see Senna’s frustration with the politics of Formula 1, the falling apart of his relationship with his once team-mate French driver Alian Prost, his relationship with God as well as his almost heroic status as the “joy of Brazil”.


I was able to see Senna on my second attempt of the day, as the film was so popular that the first showing that I went to had sold out. What was unusual about the style of documentary was the lack of a narrator running through the film. This worked incredibly well as by just being presented original home footage, interviews and race footage, you feel like you are reliving the experience exactly like it happened in the 1980’s. The drama that evolves throughout Senna’s career feels like it was manufactured just for film! He even notes this himself when he sadly says that the conflicts between drivers are good for viewer ratings. What the documentary does miss out on though is Senna’s volatile relationship with driver Nigel Mansell, (but more friendly that his one with Prost). Take a look at the clip of Mansell giving Senna a lift over the finishing line at Silverstone 1991 because it’s a great moment in Formula 1 history! 


What results from Senna is a very moving documentary, which will appeal to all viewers, not just Formula 1 bods. Footage of literal heart-stopping crashes (the audience kept gasping out loud) are mixed with footage of Senna’s touching personal relationships that add the human element to the Formula 1 machine. After I had seen the film, I found out that Kapadia actually had footage of Senna standing at the same corner where he was to have his fatal crash and he said “somebody is going to die at this corner this year”. Kapadia decided not to use it, maybe because the documentary just did not need it as it was already powerful. 

Senna is showing at FACT now, you can book tickets online, in person, or by calling 0871 902 5737.