A natural-born driver, Senna was a soft-spoken, likeable young guy whose wealthy family backed his career from the start, indulging in his passion for go-karts. they also supported as he fought his way into Formula One and rapidly rose to fame due to his sheer talent. As he speaks, we see the importance of religion in his life, his deep desire to improve life for Brazil's children, and how he learned from mistakes as he earned three championship titles. He also boldly dismissed the politics of the sport and stood up to anything that was unfair.
The film carefully traces the controversies and scandals in his career, including messy clashes with fellow driver Prost at the end of the 1989 and 1990 seasons, and bull-headed official decisions that seemed to conspire against him. But he was such a beautiful driver that he became a global hero, and in his homeland there were three days of national mourning after he was killed at age 34 in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. This resulted in significant changes to Formula One safety, and no driver has died in competition since.
All of this is told through archive footage and off-screen narration from people who watched his career. These include his mother Neide and sister Viviane, fellow drivers, managers and journalists. But it's Senna's own voice, of course, that gives us the most insight, as we see what he thought and felt about racing, including his reaction to friends who were seriously injured in crashes. And camera footage from on-board his cars is exhilarating.
As entertaining as it is, this is a documentary created in the editing. There is no new footage, as director Kapadia collects terrific clips from a variety of sources (including behind-the-scenes meetings and home movies) and assembles them into a narrative structure that tells Senna's story chronologically, accompanied by Antonio Pinto's moody score. And since most of it is essentially TV footage, it doesn't feel hugely cinematic. But Formula One fans will find it essential viewing.
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th November 2010
Box Office USA: $1.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $11.8M
Distributed by: Independent Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title Films, Midfield Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 9
IMDB: 8.6 / 10
Director: Asif Kapadia
Screenwriter: Manish Pandey
Starring: Reginaldo Leme as himself, Richard Williams as himself, John Bisignano as himself, Pierre van Vilet as himself, Alain Prost as himself, Ron Dennis as himself, Frank Williams as himself, Nevde Senna as herself, Viviane Senna as herself, Sid Watkins as himself, Ayrton Senna as himself
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