ON DVD / NETFLIX STREAMING
The most exciting driver to ever race Formula One, the handsome, charismatic Ayrton Senna became a Brazilian national hero and an icon to racing fans worldwide. But you don't need to know the first thing about racing to be thrilled and moved by Asif Kapadia's high-octane documentary, composed entirely from archival footage. It's an edge-of your-seat documentary that explores the backroom politics, bitter rivalries and the glamour of a sport that leaves no room for error. At the same time, it's a character study of a near-mythic genius who was a man of uncompromising humanity and grace.
Director: Asif Kapadia
Cast: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Frank Williams
Release Date: Aug 12, 2011
Rated PG-13 for some language
Runtime: 1 hr. 44 min.
The best documentaries can take subjects that you are mostly unfamiliar with and still make them thoroughly engaging. Outside of passing mentions in the sports world, I can honestly say I know very little about F1 (Formula 1) racing even less about the actual drivers who compete. Asif Kapadia thoroughly engrossing documentary makes the sports easily accessible and digestible to non fans like me. At its core Senna is story familiar to anyone who follows sports, exemplifying the traits found in a multitude of great champions across the world. We see the endless drive to succeed, the toll losses takes on the individual especially when it’s a result of outside influences and rivalries. Kapadia does an excellent job of showcasing all this via Senna’s life, shown almost entirely through archival footage. Additionally, Kapadia explores his effects on his country and his place as national hero. There’s something inevitable and poignant about the final act. Whether you know how the story ends or not it packs an emotional punch.