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Senna (2011)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 117
Fresh: 108 | Rotten: 9

Even for filmgoers who aren't racing fans, Senna offers heart-pounding thrills -- and heartbreaking emotion.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 4

Even for filmgoers who aren't racing fans, Senna offers heart-pounding thrills -- and heartbreaking emotion.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.4/5
User Ratings: 16,846

My Rating

Movie Info

Spanning his years as a Formula One racing driver from 1984 to his untimely death a decade later, Senna explores the life and work of the triple world champion, his physical and spiritual achievements on the track, his quest for perfection and the mythical status he has since attained. -- (C) Official Site


Documentary, Sports & Fitness

Manish Pandey

Mar 6, 2012


Independent Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (118) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (108) | Rotten (9) | DVD (2)

Captivating, chilling, and surprisingly sublime.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Senna" is simply the greatest sports film I have ever seen.

September 2, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A psychologically intriguing if at times too hagiographic portrait of a man who often held pole position in his profession and felt nearer to God because of it.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Senna" is carefully edited and makes sometimes spectacular use of extensive home movies and videos.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's not an ounce of fat or a wasted shot throughout.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You don't have to know anything about car racing at all. Instead, you simply have to like a great story, one that has all the elements: drama, inspiration, competition, victory, defeat, betrayal and, looming above it all, tragedy.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Director Asif Kapadia] allows his documentary gaze to fall upon the sport of motor-racing in this thrilling exploration into the life of a man who aimed to do as much for those less fortunate as he than he did for the sport.

September 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Trespass

No, NASCAR coverage on TV never looks as good as this.

January 7, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Senna is not only one of the best films of this year, or of the last 10 years. It is one of the best films of all time.

July 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Dial M For Movies
Dial M For Movies

...a surprisingly deft examination of the power of faith...

February 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

Senna stands as a triumph of [its makers'] knack for story craft and their ability to sort through a staggering volume of material and piece it together into a unified, powerful narrative.

January 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

If we define a classic documentary by its ability to transcend niche subject matter and engage all audiences, then the exhilarating and unbelievable Senna is one of cinema's recent best.

January 25, 2012 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

While this documentary is unreeling, we're definitely along for the ride. But there's no aftertaste, except for that of burnt metal.

November 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

A model of documentary storytelling efficiency.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Though the film seemingly had a good ambassador for the sport, astounding racing footage and was well-presented, the subject matter never fully engaged me.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

You don't have to be a Formula 1 nut to enjoy this enthralling documentary ... Asif Kapadia's film Senna is so skillfully put together that its portrayal of a complex, charismatic and fascinating figure will grip even those with no interest in the sport.

October 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

"Senna" is a streamlined piece of filmmaking, completely immersing the viewer in Senna's world and never losing momentum as it moves from one breakneck race to another.

October 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

It's impossible not to be impressed by how director Asif Kapadia and writer Manish Pandey have managed to craft a biographical film completely out of archive footage.

September 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Uses an astonishing wealth of racing and interview footage - including film shot by in-car cameras during races - to chart in a compelling way the dramatic rise and heart-rending end of the Brazilian legend.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The film is a snapshot in time of an imperfect, interrupted life more than a gateway drug to racing enthusiasm.

September 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

There's no doubt Senna was a great driver, but this competently executed highlights reel doesn't tell us much beyond that.

September 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly | Comments (2)
Las Vegas Weekly entertaining, absorbing and inspiring documentary celebrating a champion's talent.

September 14, 2011 Full Review Source:

Ayrton Senna was a phenomenon, and as such, he was filmed, interviewed, and photographed repeatedly throughout his career, images now assembled as the documentary Senna.

September 8, 2011 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Even those with no interest in Formula One - and I count myself amongst such people - will be captivated by this phenomenal motion picture.

September 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Moviedex

Audience Reviews for Senna

This film, about Formula One racing, is probably one of the best put together and archived documentary films ever. It speaks about the complete life story of Ayrton Senna, who was a competitive underdog, being from South America and winning his races on skill instead of relying on money like many of his competitors. Besides simply being about the legendary driver it is also about the pride he brought to his home country, about the spectacle of winning, and his own happiness and self-satisfaction when he won. The entire film is taken from archival footage, and though there are some interviews with his family, friends, and other racers, they are never shown onscreen. Everything we actually see is from either home movies or the race track. Senna was a very passionate and interesting man as well as a significantly good race car driver, and without a doubt the footage captures all of that and more. There's also no real commentary from a narrator, which is seriously refreshing. Everything that you can truly take away from the film comes inherently from your own sense of what truly happened. This is very true when it comes to Senna's rivalry with fellow driver Alain Prost. Prost was from a much richer driving team and both men were obvious enemies, whether it came from ratting on one another to keep each other off the track, or simply using mind games in order to win for themselves. Senna comes off with a lot of honor, and seemed to seriously care for the well-being and safety of all the other drivers, while Prost only seemed to care about winning. That may not be true about Prost, but it is true that Senna asked for safety conditions that weren't met and that ended negatively, to his detriment. That last part of the documentary, when Senna was willing to do anything to win and yet he was going against the adversaries of the commission, that showed the true nature of his character, and how great an athlete he really was.
August 22, 2013

Super Reviewer

Senna is a documentary based around the career of Ayrton Senna, regarded by many as the greatest racing driver who ever lived. It is very much based around his exploits on the track, his private life getting little in the way of screen time, but I suspect that this is a true reflection of an obsessive perfectionist and competitor who lived for his art. My interest in motor racing can best be described as "passing" as I find F1 today a sport in which robots are driven by robots, but the drama provided by the intense and bitter rivalry between Senna and Prost and the interaction between the men and their machines is in sharp contrast to what the sport has become in the wake of Senna's death. There's some thrilling in car footage of the man in action and I personally would have preferred to see a little more of the races themselves but it's an interesting and intelligent insight into the career of a man who epitomised his sport.
June 5, 2013
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Takes its place amongst "Grizzly Man" as a prime example of how to make a character-focused documentary that oozes humanity, emotion, and inspiration. Senna is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen.
November 11, 2012
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Senna is a great documentary film about Ayrton Senna. Using archive footage, director Asif Kapadia tells the story of one of the greatest drivers in Formula One racing. This is near perfect documentary that tells a great story. Although flawed, Senna has heart and should appeal to anyone looking for an effective documentary. I thought that the film captured a different side of the life of a racer. Senna was one of a kind, and though this film shows us his life and achievements, it's not the definitive work on Ayrton Senna. I felt that the documentary could have used more recent interviews in regards to Senna himself, instead of just telling his story with archival footage, the filmmakers could have given us a more in depth look into his life. There's a very good narrative throughout the film that tells an evocative story of a man that set out to be the very best in Formula One. This is a great documentary, one that is insightful and poignant. This is a must see, even if you're not into Formula One. This is a well done documentary that is engaging from start to finish. This is one of those most well executed documentary films that I've seen. Senna pains an interesting portrait of an underrated sport. Once you've seen it, you want to know more about its subject, and Ayrton Senna himself is just too interesting not to read up on. This film gives us a taste of what Ayrton Senna has accomplished throughout his short, but memorable and now legendary Formula One career. A very good film.
July 18, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

    1. Sid Watkins: [just after Ratzenburger's death] You know Ayrton, you've been 3 times world champion, you're the fastest man in the world, and you like fishing, so, why don't you quit, and i'll quit and we'll just go fishing.
    2. Ayrton Senna: Sid. I can't quit.
    – Submitted by Edward H (2 years ago)
    1. John Bisignano: There's only one word that describes Ayrton's style, and that is: fast. He would take the car beyond it's design capabilities. He would brake later, fly into these corners where the car was just over the edge, and somehow, he could dance and dance with that car, to where it stayed on track.
    – Submitted by Edward H (2 years ago)
    1. Jackie Stewart: Okay, let me ask you another difficult question: If I were to count back all the world champions, the number of times that they had made contact with other drivers, that you in the last 36 months or 48 months, have been in contact with more other cars and drivers than they might have done in total.
    2. Ayrton Senna: I find (it) amazing for you to make such a question Stewart, because you are very expirienced-
    3. Jackie Stewart: Hmm...Very.
    4. Ayrton Senna: ...And you know a lot about racing. And you should know that by being a racing driver, you are under risks all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you're no longer a racing driver, because we are competing. We are competing to win, and the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory; it's not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th.
    – Submitted by Edward H (2 years ago)
    1. Ayrton Senna: Pure driving, pure racing, that's what makes me happy.
    – Submitted by Josh K (2 years ago)
    1. Ayrton Senna: If you have God on your side, everything becomes clear.
    – Submitted by Daniela F (3 years ago)
    1. Ayrton Senna: Fear is exciting for me.
    – Submitted by Daniela F (3 years ago)
View all quotes (9)

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