I have no interest in Formula 1 racing whatsoever, only fond memories, though at the time I just remember complaining, of watching it with my dad when I was younger.
I know hardly anything about the sport except that each race seem to go on forever, they go round the same lap A LOT, and the name of two drivers; Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. Schumacher is the name that stayed with me, the driver my dad told me was one of the best at the time and when watching the races I’d constantly ask “where is he? Is he winning?” I needed someone to root for seeing as there was no way dad was giving up the remote control. But in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix I remember, sat with my dad in front of the TV, eyes glued, Ayrton Senna. I was like “Schumacher who!” “Who’s this Senna guy?” “He’s my new favourite” And then it happened. Senna crashed and the race was over. I don’t know how long I pestered my dad after that, asking “Is Senna OK? What happened? What’s wrong with him? Is he OK? Is he OK? Is he OK?” The usual eight year old pestering. And then it came back he’d died. For one brief moment I thought maybe I could get into this sport, but just as quickly got over it. I was an eight year old girl, what did you expect! My one glimmer of hope in enjoying the sport was gone. But that one race has stuck with me all the same.
Senna (A documentary directed by Asif Kapadia, written by Manish Pandey) is a brilliant piece of film making. It’s an intimate and illuminating look behind the scenes of F1 and its politics and more specifically into the life of Ayrton Senna. It charts Senna’s career from the late seventies Brazil, Senna’s home and where he began his career Go Karting, through his partnership and feud with Alain Prost, to his death in Italy, 1994. When I was eight I just saw a race, not the politics, the money, or the extent of competitiveness behind it. Senna (documentary) gets to the nitty-gritty of the sport as exposed by Senna through his personal and professional life. The best moments of the film for me personally are the most intimate, some from inside Senna’s F1 car. Seeing things from his perspective, experiencing if only a fraction of what it must have been like to be Ayrton Senna and a three-time Formula One World Champion. You don’t have to be a fan of F1 to be drawn in by Senna, it’s a film about the man not the sport. And it’s an incredible journey, emotional, uplifting but heart breaking too. It’s given me a new-found respect and interest for the sport. But like my eight year old self I’ll probably itch to turn the channel after a few laps. Or instead just turn it on toward the end when it gets to the real nail-biting stage.
You see a whole country stand behind their sporting hero; a proud Brazilian, advocate, and supporter of his country who donated to countless charities as well as the Instituto Ayrton Senna set up by his sister Viviane to help those less fortunate in programmes set up with schools and the government.
There is more to Ayrton Senna than the cars he drove, his story fascinating, adrenaline pumping and heart-warming touching. That’s why you should watch Senna.
On a side note, if Ayrton Senna’s life story were made in to a feature film does anyone else think James Franco Would make a great Senna. Him or Lukas Haas (who looks like a slightly less handsome but still very similar to Senna).