Senna

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Ayrton Senna in Senna

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue May 31 2011

The story of racing driver Ayrton Senna – charming, talented, mouthy and dead at 34 after a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in May 1994 – was screaming to be told, and this moving and often funny film brims with energy, passion and respect. The drama was already there: the rivalry with Frenchman Alain ‘The Professor’ Prost, the crashes, the backroom politics, the rapturous Brazilian fanbase, the appeals to God and the tragic ending. Director Asif Kapadia (‘The Warrior’, ‘Far North’) takes us back to that era with a documentary that roots us in the emotion and feel of the period. No narration. No talking heads. No new footage. And surprisingly little Murray Walker. Those are the rules, and they make for a rousing watch, both sad and celebratory.

Give or take some priceless backstage footage culled from the Formula 1 archives of fiery drivers’ meetings or home video of Senna’s close family on holiday – including a tanned, toned Ayrton lounging in tight black Speedos on a yacht – this is mostly made up of TV clips and other found footage, with all the grainy sense of intimacy and immediacy that brings with it. The look of the film stresses the public rise and fall of Senna, while voices offscreen guide us through the story. Senna was a TV star and pin-up, a celebrity who took Formula 1 to new places and acclaim during the decade he dominated it. He first shot to prominence speeding through the rain at the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. Later, he showed astonishing stamina when fighting to finish the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix stuck in sixth gear, determined not to fail at home. He flirted with his girlfriend, Adriane Galisteu, live on her TV show. And, of course, he died in front of cameras, his car flying off the track at Imola with the moment repeated endlessly on TV.

Inevitably, a cloud of doom hangs over the film’s final section, and Antonio Pinto’s varied score, moving from electro-jazz to more orchestral sounds and always with a distinctly Brazilian vibe, adjusts accordingly to remind us what’s coming. But this film isn’t ever an intro leading to a death. Most of it deals with a select chronology of races and crashes, team swaps and victories. Prost always looms over Senna’s shoulder, and Kapadia sets up an entertaining contrast between the Brazilian’s passion and the Frenchman’s steely pragmatism, as well as placing Prost in a Gallic axis of evil with Formula 1 boss Jean-Marie Balestre, who emerges as the film’s villain. ‘The best decision is my decision,’ he growls, smiling. It’s hard not to boo or throw things at the screen.

This is a Proustian madeleine of a film that will jolt the nostalgia of anyone who was even vaguely aware of Formula 1 in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Even if you couldn’t give two crank shafts about motor racing, Senna’s life remains a remarkable one and this film is a punchy, good-looking and clever tribute that should have an appeal far beyond a petrolhead crowd.
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Release details

UK release:

Fri Jun 3, 2011

Duration:

104 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Asif Kapadia

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

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Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|38
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John

Great film after the barrichelo crash then ratz accident it got the heart pumping knowing what was about to happen to senna.it shows how far the safety of formula has come in the last 15 years. comment you type in this box will appear on the site

John

Great film after the barrichelo crash then ratz accident it got the heart pumping knowing what was about to happen to senna.it shows how far the safety of formula has come in the last 15 years. comment you type in this box will appear on the site

tragic

I literally had no clue about Ayrton Senna before watching this (it's my age or something), but I didn't think he came out of it looking like a saint at all (in response to the very long rant of one of the reviewers!). It was, however, very dramatic, interesting, and sad. Quite incomprehensible, really, how lives were allowed to be lost completely unnecessarily. Tragic and appalling, but a really interesting watch. Didn't find the music intrusive or manipulative at all.

tragic

I literally had no clue about Ayrton Senna before watching this (it's my age or something), but I didn't think he came out of it looking like a saint at all (in response to the very long rant of one of the reviewers!). It was, however, very dramatic, interesting, and sad. Quite incomprehensible, really, how lives were allowed to be lost completely unnecessarily. Tragic and appalling, but a really interesting watch. Didn't find the music intrusive or manipulative at all.

Poor Sheep

I have the distinct impression that Alexander didn't enjoy this film. I'm glad however that he can "take solitude" that it has been "flawed" by so many people in F1. What i know about F1 is that i was very upset when Jim Clark died, and that it is a sport in which the participants dice with death. 'Senna' was really a film about this - about mortality - not really about Senna at all. Poor Alexander. he is obviously furious, but no amount of rage can distort the fact that this was a superior piece of film-making. But then perhaps he knows as little about movies as I know about F1, being merely a sheep. Baa!

Poor Sheep

I have the distinct impression that Alexander didn't enjoy this film. I'm glad however that he can "take solitude" that it has been "flawed" by so many people in F1. What i know about F1 is that i was very upset when Jim Clark died, and that it is a sport in which the participants dice with death. 'Senna' was really a film about this - about mortality - not really about Senna at all. Poor Alexander. he is obviously furious, but no amount of rage can distort the fact that this was a superior piece of film-making. But then perhaps he knows as little about movies as I know about F1, being merely a sheep. Baa!

Alexander

The Senna film was an absolute joke which was full of fabrication and I am glad many people in the know immediately slammed it. What this pathetic excuse of a director effectively done was extract hundreds of videos posted on You Tube and put them together like a tuna sandwich and then say to a brainless sheep audience "here you go a documentory film about the great Ayrton Senna. It's everything you need to know to celebrate his life". The public as usual buy it for what it is and the status of the man unjustifably grows from legend to saint. Anyone watching this film would be forgiven in thinking that this man was completely perfect and on a par with Mother Teresa. Afterall, lets not kid ourselves here as its dipicted on the film that absolutely everything Senna did was correct wasn't it? Always in the right, never made a mistake, never caused a crash and never in the wrong. On the contrary, he was just about the most controversal driver ever & the stats prove this & many of his his competitors 2nd it. In essence, what does a film tell you when the 4 people who probably knew him best in F1 Joe Ramirez, Ron Dennis, his best mate Berger and the apparent villian Prost all slammed the movie as degrading and false. In the film Senna is quoted as saying some journeyman called Fullerman (a statement taken in the aftermath of the Japan 1989 incident) was his best ever opponent. What a load of BS and what a complete contradiction from a man who it is well documented regarded Prost as his best ever racing rival FACT which he subsequently admitted to his brother in late 1993 after Prost had retired and both were on speaking terms again. Leonardo Da Silva confirms this FACT but it did not make the cut because Senna had not quoted it on camera. What makes me laugh the most is on the DVD cover there is the slogan "no equal" yeh right! This man was invincible. He was indestuctable wasn't he! If tthe so called villian "Prost" is no equal then the titanic fights they had for the championship were all a walk in the park weren't they? Truth is if he had no equals the there would be no story to tell! I am a Senna fan but I cannot just sit here and allow this stinking Indian Bollywood idiot excuse of a filmaker to reap the rewards from such a pitiful attempt to correctly portray a great mans life. It may have won awards passed out by bystanders who know jack shit about F1 but at least I can take solitude that it has been flawed by many people in the world of F1 who were there. Who witnessed it all first hand and know the truth!!

Alexander

The Senna film was an absolute joke which was full of fabrication and I am glad many people in the know immediately slammed it. What this pathetic excuse of a director effectively done was extract hundreds of videos posted on You Tube and put them together like a tuna sandwich and then say to a brainless sheep audience "here you go a documentory film about the great Ayrton Senna. It's everything you need to know to celebrate his life". The public as usual buy it for what it is and the status of the man unjustifably grows from legend to saint. Anyone watching this film would be forgiven in thinking that this man was completely perfect and on a par with Mother Teresa. Afterall, lets not kid ourselves here as its dipicted on the film that absolutely everything Senna did was correct wasn't it? Always in the right, never made a mistake, never caused a crash and never in the wrong. On the contrary, he was just about the most controversal driver ever & the stats prove this & many of his his competitors 2nd it. In essence, what does a film tell you when the 4 people who probably knew him best in F1 Joe Ramirez, Ron Dennis, his best mate Berger and the apparent villian Prost all slammed the movie as degrading and false. In the film Senna is quoted as saying some journeyman called Fullerman (a statement taken in the aftermath of the Japan 1989 incident) was his best ever opponent. What a load of BS and what a complete contradiction from a man who it is well documented regarded Prost as his best ever racing rival FACT which he subsequently admitted to his brother in late 1993 after Prost had retired and both were on speaking terms again. Leonardo Da Silva confirms this FACT but it did not make the cut because Senna had not quoted it on camera. What makes me laugh the most is on the DVD cover there is the slogan "no equal" yeh right! This man was invincible. He was indestuctable wasn't he! If tthe so called villian "Prost" is no equal then the titanic fights they had for the championship were all a walk in the park weren't they? Truth is if he had no equals the there would be no story to tell! I am a Senna fan but I cannot just sit here and allow this stinking Indian Bollywood idiot excuse of a filmaker to reap the rewards from such a pitiful attempt to correctly portray a great mans life. It may have won awards passed out by bystanders who know jack shit about F1 but at least I can take solitude that it has been flawed by many people in the world of F1 who were there. Who witnessed it all first hand and know the truth!!

Sutton

A superb documentary and very interesting, even if you don’t like Formula 1. Senna comes across very well and the film is well made and pieced together. Amazing how scary it looks racing round at that speed. A tragedy he died so young. One of the best films of the year, so far.

Sutton

A superb documentary and very interesting, even if you don’t like Formula 1. Senna comes across very well and the film is well made and pieced together. Amazing how scary it looks racing round at that speed. A tragedy he died so young. One of the best films of the year, so far.

56mph

Superb documentary. The interviews and pre race meetings were as entertaining as the action on the track. Moving, but also a celebration of a life lived to the fullest.

56mph

Superb documentary. The interviews and pre race meetings were as entertaining as the action on the track. Moving, but also a celebration of a life lived to the fullest.

Jag

A brilliant film. It should make you realise that Senna was not just the most remarkable F1 driver/sportsman but one of the most brilliant figures in any field of the late 20th century. I don't think I have ever seen such focus and determination exhibited by anyone else in any arena. Even if you couldn't give a toss about grand prix racing you should go and see this film.

Jag

A brilliant film. It should make you realise that Senna was not just the most remarkable F1 driver/sportsman but one of the most brilliant figures in any field of the late 20th century. I don't think I have ever seen such focus and determination exhibited by anyone else in any arena. Even if you couldn't give a toss about grand prix racing you should go and see this film.

RF

Amazing ! For the GP1 Fans, must watch it .. passion, competitive and talent, all together.

RF

Amazing ! For the GP1 Fans, must watch it .. passion, competitive and talent, all together.

WPW

This is a film not about sport or motor racing or celebrity, but about mortality and what it means to be alive. It is quite beautifully paced, never lingers, avoids lowest common denominator licks and paints a moving portrait of an exceptional man. Outstanding.

WPW

This is a film not about sport or motor racing or celebrity, but about mortality and what it means to be alive. It is quite beautifully paced, never lingers, avoids lowest common denominator licks and paints a moving portrait of an exceptional man. Outstanding.

Marek W.

This was an entertaining look at the life of F1 legend Ayrton Senna. There is a lot of footage of cars driven fast - but that is only to be expected from a documentary like this. It was largely, if not solely, about Ayrton Senna, his character and his life. The best part of the film for me was right at the end, where a reporter asks him who do you respect most of all the drivers you have competed with? This was a man who had raced against people such as Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher etc. But he repied that he most respected a driver who was his competitor in go-karting. Realy tellw us a lot about the man, in that he did not automaticlly respect big names, but people who 'drove fast' . A fine film, and well worth seeing.

Marek W.

This was an entertaining look at the life of F1 legend Ayrton Senna. There is a lot of footage of cars driven fast - but that is only to be expected from a documentary like this. It was largely, if not solely, about Ayrton Senna, his character and his life. The best part of the film for me was right at the end, where a reporter asks him who do you respect most of all the drivers you have competed with? This was a man who had raced against people such as Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher etc. But he repied that he most respected a driver who was his competitor in go-karting. Realy tellw us a lot about the man, in that he did not automaticlly respect big names, but people who 'drove fast' . A fine film, and well worth seeing.

Mike

Like others (below), I thought this film was good, but not outstanding. As you’d expect in a movie about Senna, there’s quite a bit of footage of cars endlessly going round tracks, but a lot of it doesn’t add anything to the documentary and story being told - it's there as padding. There were times when I felt a little bored. Though Senna’s family provided a little family camcorder footage, there were no interviews with his family or friends, which was disappointing as the film only really shows the one side to him, and you don’t get much of an idea of what he was like away from the track. . Though Jeremy Clarkson has given this movie a good review, I’d take that in context – Jeremy Clarkson thinks Jeremy Clarkson’s excellent, with which not everyone agrees. I’m not convinced this is a 3 star movie, maybe 5/10.

Mike

Like others (below), I thought this film was good, but not outstanding. As you’d expect in a movie about Senna, there’s quite a bit of footage of cars endlessly going round tracks, but a lot of it doesn’t add anything to the documentary and story being told - it's there as padding. There were times when I felt a little bored. Though Senna’s family provided a little family camcorder footage, there were no interviews with his family or friends, which was disappointing as the film only really shows the one side to him, and you don’t get much of an idea of what he was like away from the track. . Though Jeremy Clarkson has given this movie a good review, I’d take that in context – Jeremy Clarkson thinks Jeremy Clarkson’s excellent, with which not everyone agrees. I’m not convinced this is a 3 star movie, maybe 5/10.

ALFREDO

IT'S A DOCUMENTARY SO DON'T EXPECT THE NARRATIVE OF A MOVIE WITH ACTORS. THE SCRIPT AND THE EDITING ARE OUTSTANDING. SENNA WILL ALWAYS HAVE HIS PLACE IN THE MITHOLOGIES OF THE LAST DECADES OF THE LAST CENTURY.

ALFREDO

IT'S A DOCUMENTARY SO DON'T EXPECT THE NARRATIVE OF A MOVIE WITH ACTORS. THE SCRIPT AND THE EDITING ARE OUTSTANDING. SENNA WILL ALWAYS HAVE HIS PLACE IN THE MITHOLOGIES OF THE LAST DECADES OF THE LAST CENTURY.

Ian

I agree with A. It is a lovingly crafted film but doesn't really tell us anything that a big F1 fan didn't already know. It doesn't really do anything to dispel the fact that despite being an excellent driver he like Michael Schumacher has a nasty streak that means that some fans failed to fall in line with the adulation of him. His dismissal of Jackie Stewart's comments re the fact that he seemed to be involved in more crashes than other champions shows Senna's blind spot. Its a good film but not as great as some have said. If you want to see a great motorsport film this year then TT3D is still the one.

Ian

I agree with A. It is a lovingly crafted film but doesn't really tell us anything that a big F1 fan didn't already know. It doesn't really do anything to dispel the fact that despite being an excellent driver he like Michael Schumacher has a nasty streak that means that some fans failed to fall in line with the adulation of him. His dismissal of Jackie Stewart's comments re the fact that he seemed to be involved in more crashes than other champions shows Senna's blind spot. Its a good film but not as great as some have said. If you want to see a great motorsport film this year then TT3D is still the one.

A

Well crafted but limited. Sadly it didn't tell us very much we didn't already know - hardly anything about his personal life, loves, family, friends and interests outside of motor racing. I was disappointed.

A

Well crafted but limited. Sadly it didn't tell us very much we didn't already know - hardly anything about his personal life, loves, family, friends and interests outside of motor racing. I was disappointed.

john o sullivan

Woderful movie. A poignant and moving tribute to an extroidinary man. Hard not to be moved by the end at the scenes at his funeral

john o sullivan

Woderful movie. A poignant and moving tribute to an extroidinary man. Hard not to be moved by the end at the scenes at his funeral

L

one correction of fact to make - the girlfriend he was seen flirting with live on TV was Xuxa not Adriane Galisteu. Galisteu became famous after his death, Xuxa was hugely famous before, even more famous than him at the time they went out in the late 80s.

L

one correction of fact to make - the girlfriend he was seen flirting with live on TV was Xuxa not Adriane Galisteu. Galisteu became famous after his death, Xuxa was hugely famous before, even more famous than him at the time they went out in the late 80s.