• Senna
    2 minutes 30 seconds
    Added: Jun 30, 2011


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Senna Reviews

Page 1 of 81
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2011
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.

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2013
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.
Sam B

Super Reviewer

October 13, 2012
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.

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2012
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.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

July 16, 2012
I've often though F1 was much like a soap opera, it almost has to be these days as all the drivers and their cars are the same. Senna, the life and career of Ayrton Senna shows how F1 changed in such a short amount of time, thanks to his fight against the system that let him down and unfortunately his untimely death. I remember watching the race that he crashed in, I thought I knew his story but I really didn't. Rarely does a documentary delve so successfully in to its subject matter, even if you're not into racing, this is a great story of defiance against adversity. A great documentary.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2012
Senna tells the tragic tale of Ayrton Senna. Often considered the greatest F1 driver of his generation, Senna was successful at his chosen sport, as well as raising the profile thanks to media coverage. This documentary is compiled of only archive footage with voice overs from those involved. This successfully captures the time period. Kapadia, manages to compile the footage so that he actually tells a fairly straight forward narrative.This makes it exciting, even for those with no interest in the sport. He has the rise and fall, conflict, and an antagonist in Prost. What he doesn't do is vilify Prost, nor does he make Senna out to be some kind of saint. Prost's frustration is completely understandable, as Senna begins to make a few too many risks. The film builds to its obvious emotional climax, but some how avoids being completely predictable. Informative, passionate, and entertaining, this does more than a documentary needs to.
Matthew S

Super Reviewer

May 19, 2012
It is the overall access with video footage that makes this an extraordinary documentary of a man against the "darker forces." We see Senna take a stand against the president of the racing organization and win, once with fellow racers on his side and another time with the public. He couldn't help but strive for what is best. Though I'm not a follower of the sport, this was more about the man than the talent, and he leaves a lasting impression.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

March 9, 2011
An enthralling, heartbreaking documentary using only archive material and old interviews with the pilot and people who knew him. It is quite revealing and fascinating to see the human side of an admirable man who was the greatest idol of a nation facing a major economical and political crisis back then.

Super Reviewer

February 1, 2012
For someone who has little to no interest in Formula 1 racing, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. How the filmmaker sorted through all of that footage to create such a tightly structured film is quite a feat. So don't let the plot synopsis turn you away from checking this film out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Joe M

Super Reviewer

August 19, 2011
Using a mixture of historical footage and recent interviews with the people involved it captures the spirit of and what made him so great. By the end you will most likely be in tears for the legend that was taken from the world well before his time.

Super Reviewer

December 30, 2011
I have never been a fan of racing of any sorts, be it horse or NASCAR or Formula One, the subject of the biographical documentary, Senna. So naturally I never felt like I'd been interested in a documentary about Ayrto Senna, the brilliant Brazilian driver who was the head of the pack. I was wrong. Even non-fans like myself can get enjoy Senna, a lean doc that doesn't waste a second. In fact, never do talking heads, interviews, or reenactments enter the frame. The movie is completely made up of archival footage, some of it astonishing like Senna's dashboard recordings that immerse you into his world of speed. The vintage race footage is thrilling. The film ably portrays the driver's life, his passion, his controversies with league officials who disliked the young man's style, his competition with rivals, and his impact on the sport. Here's an instance where being completely ignorant of the subject and its sport will come in handy, since you don't know what befalls Senna, though most will be able to pick up the ominous tones and markings of tragedy. This is a doc that just flies by with skill, precision, and enthusiasm, much like its charismatic and confounding subject.

Nate's Grade: B+

Super Reviewer

September 7, 2011
"No Fear. No Limits. No Equal."

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34

It tells the story of Brazilian Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna's time in the sport. He arrived in Europe as an unknown go-karter but his talent was obvious and he soon joined Formula 1. He graduated from the small Toleman team to the more prestigious Lotus and finally to McLaren where he was a team mate of Alain Prost. They were the two best drivers at the time and their rivalry was so intense that they eventually stopped speaking to one another after many racing incidents between them.

The best parts of the movie are the brilliant race footage and the many interviews with Senna at various stages of his career. Senna was remarkably frank in describing his feelings about the internal politics of Formula 1. There is also great footage of pre-race drivers meetings. At these Senna wasn't slow in expressing his feelings at what he saw as the favouritism of the FIA authorities towards Prost. All commentary and interviews are included as voice-over or sub-titles. There are no "talking heads".

Senna comes across as an unusual character in Formula 1. People such as McLaren boss Ron Dennis and chief F1 doctor Sid Watkins speak of what a great man he was, as well as being a great driver. There is plenty of footage of Senna's personal life, including his charitable work in Brazil and a fascinating clip from a Brazilian TV show where the blonde presenter unashamedly chats him up! Unfortunately most people watching the movie will be aware of how tragically it ends. The fatal weekend at Imola is covered in depth from the death of Roland Ratzenberger in practice to on board footage of Senna's final lap during the race. The scenes in Brazil on the return of his body and during his funeral make it clear how important he was to ordinary Brazilians, at a time when they had few reasons to be proud of their country.

Senna is most definitely the "hero" of this movie and the story is told from his point of view. Perhaps the filmmakers could be accused of some bias of their own. However given the character of the man and his life story they can be forgiven for this. A great movie for followers of motor sport as well as anyone with an interest in fascinating life stories.
Mark H

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2011
Riveting documentary on the life and career of Brazilian Formula One racecar driver Ayrton Senna. We are presented with an organized and interesting story, easily enjoyed by the fanatic as well as the casual fan. Filmmaker Asif Kapadia uses archival footage to show what it's like to race from the driver's perspective. These scenes are exhilarating. Formula One cars race at speeds of up to 220 mph (360 km/h). I, not knowing anything about Formula One Racing, gained a real appreciation for the talent and skill needed to be successful. You have to essentially memorize the racetrack because the twists and turns come so fast, it's impossible to navigate without having some prior knowledge of what's coming.

Where the picture truly shines is in the narrative which is built entirely from existing footage from Senna's life. Director Asif Kapadia pored through thousands of hours of film to assemble the brilliantly edited piece of filmmaking here. Senna initially began his career with racing go-karts as a teenager. It clearly was a pivotal time in his life because it laid the groundwork for his life's passion. He refers to kart racing as the purest form of the sport where politics played no part. He wistfully recalls those days a couple times during the story. We get to know the man directly and his own words largely form the structure of his story. Where the picture falls short is in director Kapadia's respectful almost fawning reverence for Senna that sometimes gets in the way of an impartial depiction. But overall, it's absorbing from beginning to end. The tension climaxes to a momentous event at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. It's an emotional conclusion, one you won't soon forget.
Matheus C

Super Reviewer

July 8, 2011
A atenção (e êxito de público) que o filme vem recebendo na Europa é totalmente merecida. O documentário é uma bela homenagem a um herói nacional, ainda mais emocionante de se ver estando longe de casa.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

June 12, 2011
Innovation and artistic value are not properties which disappear when a genre enters the mainstream, and nowhere is there more evident than in documentaries. There are copious examples of recent efforts which have found a relatively wide audience while pushing the genre envelope, from Kevin Macdonald's nail-biting Touching the Void to more introspective works like The Arbor and Of Time and the City. Continuing this trend is Senna, a really great documentary which could be one of the year's best films.

Senna is a documentary about the late Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna, which is constructed entirely from archive footage of him. This incorporates TV race coverage, press interviews, TV appearances in Brazil, behind-the-scenes footage and family home video. Although other voices appear over the footage, there is no consistent narration to impose a particular version of events over what we see. Senna is allowed to tell his own story, like he is reading from pages of a diary which switches between the first and third person.

One of the instant advantages of this approach is that Senna avoids the cliché of the talking head. These are individuals connected with the subject or more contemporary commentators, whose often platitudinous insights can drag even the best documentary into tedium and mediocrity. But just as Julien Temple's rock documentaries have sought to capture the feel of a band rather than just what people have said about them, so Asif Kapadia makes us instantly immersed in the character of Senna as he saw himself, rather than just the reputations he accrued.

Another coup of Kapadia's film is that it makes the televisual cinematic. Normally when TV footage is put on the big screen, it looks out of place because of a difference in aspect ratio or frame rate which breaks the flow. But Kapadia does not let this happen, blowing up the footage very carefully and reframing key scenes so that we zoom in on the characters' faces and emotions. The pace of the film, both as a thrill ride and a piece of storytelling, keep any technical quibbles out of our minds, so that even when the footage is grainy or incomplete, we don't complain.

Senna explores a number of themes related to racing driving and the personality and attitudes of the drivers therein. There is a repeated mention of "real driving", the pure sensation of driving for its own sake, in which the goal is not simply winning but winning through pure talent and passion alone. It is this pure devotion to what he loves that made Senna stand out from the other drivers, and which led him to become a national hero in his home country of Brazil.

Senna's complaints about racing technology mirror concerns in the sport as a whole, and comment on how the nature of Formula 1 has changed since he started racing in the 1980s. The tipping point comes in 1992 when Williams introduce new suspension technology on their car; at this point Senna's form begins to decline because he cannot adjust his pure style of driving to technology designed to make the driver do less work.

Within this there is a comment on how technology determines not only the style of racing but also the personality of the driver. In the middle of the film there is a conversation between Senna and Jackie Stewart, in which they talk about the changes in technology and how that has affected the flair of different drivers. The implication is the less there is for a driver to do in a race, the less there is for the driver to be, with said individuals hiding behind endorsements and statistics in the absence of real, passionate charisma.

This difference in approach is further communicated in Senna's bitter rivalry with Alain Prost. Senna races with a pure spirit and an often reckless urge to win at any cost - he is not content to play the political games and he never does it for the money. But Prost, who is nicknamed the Professor, is content to play those games and drive according to mathematical calculations - if he can win a championship by staying in fifth, he will stay in fifth.

Much has been written about how Prost comes out as the villain of the film, and it is undeniably true that at the height of their respective careers both men hated each other. But in fact, their relationship is far more complicated than simple rivalry. Beneath the public scrapes involving crashes and back-chatting, there is some form of mutual underlying respect which these men retained throughout their careers. In spite of completely different styles and attitudes, both men were willing to acknowledge the other's talent, which might explain why Prost currently serves as a trustee for Senna's charity.

If we wish to paint the documentary purely in terms of heroes and villains, then the true antagonists are the Formula 1 regulators. The film examines the conflicted and clouded politics of professional racing and how the rules designed to make racing fair and exciting often go against the very things the drivers (or at least Senna) want. In one sequence, the FIA President Jean-Michel Balestre emphasises a particular regulation, only for the majority of drivers to vote against upholding it. In another, there is a heated disagreement about racing lines on the starting grid which leads to a spectacular crash involving Senna at the start of a race.

But although Senna focuses on the physical effort and talent involved in racing, an equal amount of its focus is on the spiritual aspect of the sport. Senna was a devout Roman Catholic who prayed to God before each race, and who believed that God had called him to drive this fast and in this way. The way Senna talks about God often drifts in Chariots of Fire territory, so that you almost expect him to say: "when I drive, I feel his pleasure". But the documentary also shows that this relationship was not straightforward; the first time Senna feels God's presence, he crashes at Monaco, throwing away a huge lead and losing the race.

Because the outcome of the subject is widely known, certain moments in Senna take on an eerie quality so that they become harbingers of his tragic death. When he goes on Brazilian TV after becoming world champion, a girl kisses him and wishes him a happy new year for every year up until 1993, the year before he died. In 1991 he talks about having many years ahead of him and still so much to achieve. Like Amazing Journey, the film touches on the possibility that certain individuals are so prodigiously talented that they were not put on this Earth to make old bones. And like Keith Moon, Senna's death was both a tragic accident and something to be expected by the way he lived his life.

Even if you're not a fan of Formula 1, or particularly interested in the spiritual side of sport, there is more than enough in Senna to get your heart racing. Some of the racing footage is genuinely scary, as cars pass within inches of each other through corners and the on-board cameras give you a sense of speed with wider shots would not. Senna's driving throughout is extraordinary, and in appreciating this we follow his emotional journey. We feel his intense anger at being disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix in 1989, and both his joy and immense pain after having won in Brazil in 1990 despite having to drive the last few laps in a single gear.

There are aspects of Senna's life which remain absent from the documentary, such as his relationships with women and his influence on popular motoring, such as working with Honda on the NSX. But all in all this is a great documentary which is gripping, insightful and highly emotional. It does justice both to the man and to the ideals for which he stood, while leaving plenty of things open to interpretation. Like Senna himself, it is accomplished, thrilling and ultimately heart-breaking.
Liam G

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2011
Senna is a very intense documentary. Going in not knowing anything about Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, I was stunned by how much of his life the film explored in terrific fashion. Not only is this an excellent biography of Senna's career in Formula 1 racing, but it explores themes like rivalry and corruption very well. Even if you are not interested in motorsport, this is a fascinating documentary of a man who not only was an amazing driver, but left a legacy on his sport.
Pedro H

Super Reviewer

June 2, 2011
The legend of the greatest driver who ever lived.


Not only as an Idol to Brasil, but to the world, the documentary of the greatest driver Senna is thrilling and touching . As a Brasilian, Senna has brought a lot pride to my nation, therefore whilst watching this movie it is very emotional, but its very interesting to see and understand the bureaucracy that goes on inside Formula One and by that matter any competitive sport.

Surprisingly this documentary has better story line than any other movie ive seen lately. . Therefore I highly recommend this documentary for everyone out there, very emotional and worth watching.

Senna : "I'll fight for the win"
Ross C

Super Reviewer

June 4, 2011
Senna is an absolute legend. Any documentary about him was going to be good. It was interesting to get a full perspective of his career summarised over a couple of hours giving clearer context to the events that transpired, the politics and technology changes in the sport that passed me by when I was younger. And it was sad seeing that final season replayed, being reminded of how unhappy he was at that time.
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