Monday, August 01, 2011
Image from Imp Awards
In a word, wow! I haven't been caught up in a documentary in a long time, but this one had me hooked from the start.
Senna tells the story of the late Brazilian Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna. It is composed entirely of archival footage from the late 70s through to the mid 90s sourced from TV shows, documentaries, home videos, and race footage. Eschewing a narrator, the story is conveyed by sound bites both old and new of people who were involved in the events depicted, including Senna himself. The film captures the key moments of Senna's career and presents them in dramatic fashion, starting from his early go-karting days through entry to Formula 1 and the accumulation of successes and controversy, including a bitter rivalry with Alain Prost.
While there is an element of idolising at play, it never feels fawning or overly biased. Senna was clearly a remarkably skilled driver and a charismatic individual, with some of his achievements and dramatic moments putting a lot of fiction to shame. He is the star of the film and in much of the footage he freely expresses his views and feelings. It's easy to become fully invested in his journey as events build up towards his untimely demise. And, speaking as a person who is not a fan of motor racing, the racing sequences are thrilling affairs edited to encapsulate the most exciting and interesting moments of the races and set to a lively soundtrack and excited commentators.
In short, it's a terrific film. Director Asif Kapadia's achievement in assembling all of this footage into a documentary that is thoroughly informative while being entertaining and absorbing is remarkable. As an insight into the life of a sporting legend and the sport itself during his time it is brilliant; 'Senna' deserves to be seen.