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Simply fantastic
David George4 June 2011
I have just returned home from watching "Senna" and am struggling to recall a time I have ever been moved by a piece of film so much.

What has been created is much more than just a documentary, it charts Ayrton's F1 career and gives the viewer an insight into the man, not just the public face we saw and loved so dearly on the TV.

As a F1 fan I could be biased, but I believe this film will appeal to any film lover, it creates a sense of connection and understanding of the man, and unashamedly tears at your heart when the inevitable scene is played out, even though I knew it was coming I was fighting tears in the cinema, it brought back memories from all those years ago.

It is some feat though for a film to leave you with such an overwhelming sense of optimism despite the tragedy, but nevertheless Asif has done this in my opinion, as Ayrton's humanity and personality are explored, as is the influence that this one man had on his homeland.

I can't recommend this enough for motorsport fans, and anyone who loves film.
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A truly great documentary, regardless of your interest in racing
mike-mckinnon17 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
So first things first - the obligatory "you don't have to be a fan of Senna or even a fan of Formula 1 or even a fan of racing or even a fan of sports at all to enjoy this film" disclaimer. Maybe in the past you've been coerced by this sort of lead-on by a friend or significant other, only to suffer and moan. I asked my wife while leaving the Paramount Theater if she enjoyed the movie. My wonderful, accommodating, supportive wife, who has absolutely no interest in racing whatsoever (strike whatsoever - I think she might have an unhealthy and/or impure appreciation of Mark Webber and Jenson Button), responded, "How could you not?" From across the theater, my friend Eric, whose interest in sports essentially begins and ends with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, hallowed be thy name, flashed two thumbs up, then pantomimed tears falling. Then two more thumbs up, so as not to end his review on an unmanly note.

Ultimately my appreciation of Senna derives from the perspective of how it immortalizes Ayrton Senna, a god among men, as a human being. If you're disinclined to be all gung-ho about a documentary, I have some encouragement. Kapadia forgoes the typical talking head, television style interview with someone who knew Senna recounting their experiences and memories. Instead he lets the characters, primarily nemesis Alain Prost, McLaren team boss Ron Dennis and of course, Senna himself, tell the story, more or less chronologically, and in the moment. With hundreds of hours of footage available, from interview to candid behind the scenes to in-car, supplemented by more recent interviews specifically for the film, the narrative of Senna's rise to the pinnacle of the racing world is already extensively documented and well known, at least in a mythological sense. The drive and focus of that narrative then is a masterstroke of tireless research and judicious editing. Senna is undeniably a good film, full stop.

Senna, as the protagonist in the drama, develops as thoroughly as a character in any of the best films you could name. One of the most controversial moments of his career, the infamous shunt with Alain Prost (our lead antagonist) at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, is suddenly re-contextualized from its usual portrayal, with the background to color the incident (accurately, you could argue) as a righteous middle finger to the sport's governing body, and particularly its then demagogue of a master, Jean-Marie Balestre. In many circles, purists will cluck and bemoan the unsporting intent of Senna's defiance by charging for a gap and holding a line that would likely, and in fact did, retire both drivers from the race. The crash brought cheers from the audience in the theater. Senna went on to clinch the championship. Unsportsmanlike or the very illustration of competitive purity? There's room to argue but the context underlying the whole ordeal is undeniable.

My favorite sequence, and the one that honestly caused something to get in my eye, was the 1991 Brazil Grand Prix. Piloting a broken car, but having never won in his home country, Senna drove an impossible drive to cling to his victory. If the story ended here, it would be Roy Hobbs slamming the ball into the lights. Senna winning in Brazil exemplifies my theory that athletic competition can be art, or at least artistic. Senna's drive was a pure expression of the human spirit, and it is beautiful to behold. Seriously, truthfully beautiful. If you could package this segment of the film, a model of Michelangelo's David and maybe a recording of Mingus Ah Um, and send it all into space for aliens to understand what humanity is and is capable of, you wouldn't be doing the universe a disservice. Watching the footage of him on the winners' podium in sheer agony, try and fail, then try again to hoist his trophy over his head, and knowing that he wasn't doing so out of a need to satisfy his ego, but to salute his country and its citizens - it's moving.

But this is all a bit like the Titanic, isn't it? Most racing fans know what happened to Ayrton Senna on May 1, 1994. We know every race, every victory, brings us closer to The Monster at the End of This Book. Few serious accidents are shown in the film. Only the outcome of Martin Donnelly's career ending but amazingly not fatal 1990 crash is shown, his broken body lying motionless on the circuit. It's a nauseatingly frank shot. Rubens Barrichello's airborne shunt during practice at Imola in '94 that ranks in the majority of morbid but somehow requite top 10 crashes of all time lists. Roland Ratzenberger's fatal crash at qualifying for the same race. And finally Senna. It's jarring, even when you know it's coming.

Throughout the film are shots of Niki Lauda. Although he's never named either in narration or by subtitle, the burn scarred face of the three-time world champion, and still competitive driver at the time, is a frequent, looming reminder of the supposedly bygone age when the life expectancy of F1 drivers was not the job's mot vital selling point. But in the "modern" era, no one expected the greatest driver possibly in the history of the sport could be snuffed with so little effort on the part of the universe. It was tragic and will always be tragic, like the last man to die in the battle before a truce is called, but that doesn't make it senseless. If the Spirit of Racing Future floated down to Senna and handed him a signed declaration of his impending death, he'd likely have strapped into his wobbly Williams and tempted the Almighty's resolve. Because that loving, thankful, but nonetheless defiant middle finger to the institution he loved so much, whether we're talking racing or God, defined him as a human.
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Truly Remarkable
Traditionalmoviebuff26 June 2011
I had been a Fan of Ayrton when I was a child. I distinctly remember watching the F1 highlights with my dad. My dad was a seasonal fanatic of sports and kept updating me with the news from the papers/sports magazines and the television.

To relive the moments of Ayrton (the idol) in this emotionally gripping documentary was unbelievably comforting. The script and flow of the events were so flawlessly presented taking one's memory into the Time travel of decade gone by. It was nothing short of Excellence in execution.

The documentary dissects Ayton's persona in a subtle way, making it the most compelling Biography of all times. The back-ground score by Antonio Pinto was Enthralling and Sensual delight.

This is not to be missed, sad that I had been to the cinema only on the final day when it was shown-much regret the delay. Nevertheless, Its a true Masterpiece which portrays the subtle sadness of a legend's demise in a sweet throat stifling moments.
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Perfect narrative, thrilling documentary, wonderful music, pure emotion!
tomasdelara28 November 2010
This documentary is flawless, it's narrative perfect, it's thrilling, I could not imagine another way of depicting this awesome history. The soundtrack is great, the documentary flows in such a wonderful way, real drama, marvelous histories, some funny parts as well, it's life in it's beauty and it's true form.

We get to know so many things about the formula 1 politics and internal struggles at that period.

Memorable sentences from the documentary:

Senna: -¨Formula 1 is too much money, too much politics¨

Jean-Marie Balestre (FIA ex-President): -¨The best decision is my decision¨

It's so exciting to see the rivalry between Alain Prost and Senna, possibly one of the greatest duels on the history of sports. There are few movies/documentaries that I would give a ¨11¨ out of 10 and this is one, together with amazing documentary Bus 174, from José Padilha (the director of Elite Squad).

A documentary is good when is true to reality, and is awesome when is great to watch as ¨Senna¨ is, a perfect tribute to such a hero. The history of Senna is so inspiring, he is a true champion by all means, as a professional, and as a human being, that's way this is for sure a "must see movie".
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Senna a must-seen
Stella19 April 2011
I didn't know much about Senna, before watching this documentary. Just obvious things: great rider who died young in a F1 accident. Topics, nothing more. When I started to watch "Senna", I was surprised by the eyes of a rider who seemed nearly shy in the interviews, but fiercely strong and daring on the truck. His face was a canvas where his soul sketched the mixed feelings that were born as he and life slowly sprang up. You see Senna as a true consistent human being, who debated between what he loved - racing, his country- and what was surrounding him and , sadly, growing up -Brasil's poverty, politics infesting F1, too much engineering against pilot's talent.. This is a must-seen documentary. A must-seen film indeed. Traces of archive footage that let you be a little closer of a great man who loved and lived for a passion, who had errors and fought against them, and who taught us a great lesson of attitude and coherence. Requiescat In Pace
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Truly excellent...
ajs-1010 July 2011
My local cinema is only small, it only has two screens and consequently, to make money, they have to show a lot of mainstream films. Most of these don't interest me too much and I sometimes despair that they will ever show anything like this. So you can imagine my surprise when the weekly email I receive from them listing the upcoming films included this little gem. I've had it on 'The List' (that's my 'To See' list for those that don't know) for some time and always thought I'd end up seeing it on TV. But no, the Picture House are showing it! Admittedly it's only for two screenings, but they're actually showing a film I never thought I'd see on the big screen.

Two of us went to the first screening; myself, a Formula One fan for many years and my buddy Dave, who isn't into Formula One but is a bit of a connoisseur of film. He had heard about this one and was interested to give it the once over. The film tells the story of the Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna from his early days in carting through his rise to fame and fortune in Formula One to his untimely death in an accident in 1994. We are told about the feud he had with fellow driver, Alain Prost, and the battles they had both on and off the track. How he dealt with the politics of the sport and how he became a huge star, giving hope to millions, back home in Brasil. And also the thoughts of those involved in his life and career.

I love the way this film was put together, there is no commentary and no interviews with people made after the fact. It's all archive footage and interviews, mostly with Senna himself, that tells the story. As has been said many time before, real life can be so much better than fiction and this story has so much drama and emotion in it I firmly believe, in this case at least, it's true. The section of the film concerning his death I remember watching events unfold live on TV very well. It was the blackest day on Formula One history and I don't think I'll ever forget it. In the film it is very emotional and even Dave admitted to shedding a manly tear at one point.

To many, Ayrton Senna was the greatest driver ever to race in Formula One. I'll admit that I wasn't his greatest fan when he raced; I wanted the British drivers to win (of course). I always admired his talent though, and now I know more about him I am inclined to think that, yes, he was one of the greatest. This is a truly remarkable film and one I can highly recommend to fans of the sport and those that don't follow it. It's a remarkable story and one I'm sure you will find yourself thinking about for a long time afterwards.

My Score: 9.2/10
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truly mind blowing movie
mrssll19 June 2011
Throughout the movie, you start to see how Senna is much more than a racing driver. senna's passion for his country and his fans are second to none. The movies well balanced makes. for a truly entertaining movie. The sadness surrounding senna's is subtle and delicatly done. Nobody comes out bad in this movie.

The director has not used any cgi or any reconstructions. The material is completely archived and well put together. The movie won an award last year for documentary of the year, which is truly deserved.

On the big screen the onboard cameras add tension and gives a true sensation of speed.

I love this film as it suits all f1 and none f1 fans. Senna was loved and ,admired all over the world. This is evident as the movie progresses.

Truly magnificent film and well worth seeing.

All thats for me to say is go see it.... ENJOY!!!
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All he ever wanted to do was race...
the_rattlesnake254 June 2011
Seventeen years after the passing of one of the greatest Formula 1 racing drivers of all time a documentary has been released that examines his ten-year career in the sport. Directed by Asif Kapadia ('Far North,' 'The Warrior') and produced by Universal and Working Title, 'Senna' shows the audience the untapped potential and brilliance of the Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, while also examining the rise of this shy, young Brazillian boy; from go-karting circuits to a televisual audience of millions. 'Senna' is as moving and touching, as it is interesting and captivating.

Born Ayrton Senna da Silva to wealthy middle-class parents in the Santana district of Sao Paulo, he always had a dream of becoming a racing driver and began by driving in the Karting World Championships until he was approached to join Formula 3 for the 1983 season and then Formula 1 for the following season. From his first controversial podium finish in the Monaco in Grand Prix in 1984, two things were born; an intense rivalry with the future French Formula 1 champion (and soon to be team-mate) Alain Prost and a desire to race, dominate and win which would see Senna not only claim three World Championships, but also lose his own life on the track.

Where Kapadia's 'Senna' documentary works is in its ability to appeal to wide array of audience members. For the fans of the Formula 1 racing there is a copious amount of footage documenting select races and the events taking place around his career. Rather than use cutaway segments to show various celebrities and sports men and women discuss their memories and recollections of Senna, Kapadia instead utilises a voice-over to accompany the archive images on-screen. By allowing the voice-over of the various people associated with Senna (most notable this consists of McLaren's team principal Ron Dennis, his mother, father and sister, F1 team Doctor Sid Watkins, and Brazilian commentator Reginaldo Leme) to supplement the footage, it both preserves he power of the on-screen image and provides the audience with additional information regarding the situation or event that is being presented.

While for the casual viewer who may only know of Ayrton Senna in passing, there is the psychological unravelling of a man trapped in a boy's body. Senna is shown not to be ignorant of the politics of Formula 1, but simply uninterested, he was always that middle-class boy from Brazil who only wanted to race, win and repeat. There is also an interesting inclusion of footage of Senna as a modern hero of the Brazilian people, he's shown as the racing driver who transcended the social and political problems of a nation on the edge of poverty and economic instability and provided them with ray of light and joy that was unfortunately extinguished on the 1st of May 1994. 'Senna' is a brilliant and moving examination of a rising sporting star caught up in the whirlwind of politics, rivalries and stardom, when all he wanted to do was race and win by any means necessary, not for the adulation of millions, but his love for sport so close to his heart.
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Shocking, funny, Wonderful and beautiful.
Bistoman14 June 2011
First off, I have to say I'm an F1 fan, so take whatever You want from that. Senna has to be the best documentary ever made, It simply tells the story of the great man trough, Mostly. old TV footage. This brings back memory s of late night highlight shows of a race that happened hours before. Its Shocking to see the total unfairness of the sport at that time, Its trilling to see the racing. Its so sad to see senna's Last lap at Imola. Overall It's a peek into the life of one of the worlds greatest sportsmen, a wort's and all account of a good, but sometimes, flawed man. If for no other reason than seeing how well the old footage is spliced back together, Go and see Senna, You will not be disappointed.
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An Exotic Tale of a Truly Unfathomable Legend
steve-61-29348322 May 2011
People could be forgiven for not remembering Ayrton Senna De'Silva. Almost 20 years after his death, the true intricacies that embroiled his career and personal life have yet to be unraveled, however this movie does a hell of a job connecting the two in perfect harmony. A bitter sweet taste is left in the mouth of the viewer as they watch a film with subtle undertones of competitiveness and strong hues of emotion. A soulful film, you really find yourself unraveling the charisma and Jues De Vivre that is Senna.

From the offset of the movie you find yourself in a somewhat cheerful, unknowing state, as it lightly unravels his early career in Formula 1, whilst hinting at the precursors that led him there. The hard, pressing, and very tight competition of him against Proust is another aspect that the viewer will find to be nail biting, as you truly begin to see the emotional aspect of Senna open at this point. Thus, the ending could come to a heartbreak to someone who had never heard of Senna. But alas, the legacy that lasts, transcends all documentaries, and all books. For the truly afflicted car/racing fan such as myself, you feel torn, and yet very motivated to be the best you can be.

To the regular viewer, you feel emotionally attached to a man who affected the lives of millions positively in his home country of Brazil. A perfect mix of a movie, in which you can watch as either an auto-racing fan, or someone who has never heard of Senna; It delivers on a highly emotional level, surrounding you in the warmth that he brought to many.
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I was concerned it wouldn't live up to the hype- and was happily proved wrong!
bjcm8518 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As somebody who was 4 months short of my 9th birthday when I saw the news update reporting Senna's death, I had been waiting years for a movie to be made about his life. My growing years were spent regretting that I didn't follow the great mans' career for longer, and so I made up for lost time after his death accumulating as much information on his F1 dynasty (and his life outside F1) as I could. It got to that point where you feel as if you know/ knew somebody very well, despite never meeting them.

When I heard that a movie was being made about Senna, I couldn't wait, but at the same time I worried that it may not do his life justice. Having seen the movie at last, it's definitely one to watch, even if you don't follow motorsport. The editing is sharp enough to keep even the most casual viewer interested, which is all the more impressive considering 'Senna' is made up entirely of archival footage.

The movie is an emotional roller-coaster from start to finish, however the only time I felt close to shedding tears was when he finally won the Brazilian Grand Prix. It's a pity they didn't mention it in the film, but only a few hundred metres after crossing the finish line, his gearbox conked out and the car coasted to a halt. That's how close it was. It was truly meant to be the day he won, and you would be hard pressed not to get caught up in the enormity of the moment, even if (like me) you had seen it plenty of times before.

To that final weekend at Imola, and although I had seen much of the footage a number of times before, for the first time I had the feeling of actually being there and living through the events taking place. Strangely, I found Ratzenberger's death more harrowing than Senna's. Perhaps it was because I have seen Senna's death and events before/ after it many times on TV or youtube, but for the first time, Ratzenberger is presented as more than just that other guy who was killed the day before Senna, and instead as an actual person, taking part in a sport he loved and doing the best he could in an inferior car.

I give this movie 9/10. It misses a mark for some minor details that would only interest a hardcore F1 buff like myself:

  • Virtually no mention/ vox pops of Mansell (a great rival of Senna's on the circuit, he was Prosts' Ferrari team-mate in 1990 and in his autobiography called him "the lowest human being I have ever met". This would have given a more balanced view of Prost and shown that it was not just Senna and his fans who were disdainful of Prost. Berger (Senna's team-mate after Prost and a close friend) and Murray Walker (for so long the voice of Formula 1) would have been welcome inclusions as well.

  • The dates are occasionally wrong (e.g, the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix was on the 24th of March and not the 21st, which incidentally was Ayrton's 31st birthday). Another incorrect detail is when on-board footage of Senna qualifying in the 1990 McLaren at Monaco is shown, while the caption claims it is from the 1988 race. Occasionally, the engine note doesn't match the in-car footage, and has clearly been lifted from other footage. These are tiny details, but considering the effort that went into the rest of the documentary, it's a shame they didn't clean those bits up.

  • Surely time could have been found in the film to include Senna's battle with Mansell at Monaco in '92 and his masterful wet weather display at Donington in '93? And although footage of Senna racing to the aid of Comas's wrecked Ligier features in the end credits, it would have been great to have included it in the actual feature itself, linking it with Donnelly's accident to emphasize the concern Ayrton had for the welfare of the other drivers.

Those are my only reasons for not giving this film a perfect 10, and they are only minor reasons admittedly. I am already looking forward to seeing this movie again. If you haven't seen 'Senna' yet, watch it as soon as you get the chance. One of those inspirational films that stays in your head after you see it, leaves an impact, and then leaves an even bigger impact when you remember that everything you saw really did happen.
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Great movie, but ...
peakcrew15 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have just come back from the cinema, which had, at a rough estimate, 150 people watching this film. This is quite amazing, since the last time I shared that screen with so many people was the Star Trek reboot in the first week after opening! For a documentary, this seems to be very popular.

First of all, a disclaimer - I'm a died-in-the-wool petrolhead, and have been since before Senna entered F1. It was, therefore, with some trepidation that I went to see this documentary, because I wondered what liberties might have been taken with history in order to paint a picture of Senna, and, by implication, the sport. I'm pleased to say that I was not disappointed - this film captured many of my memories of the time very well.

My biggest criticism is that the film is too short - a few more minutes would have painted a different picture of Senna's relationship with other drivers. Sure, the focus on the Senna/Prost battle is understandable, but some time spent showing how they reconciled after Prost resigned would have been nice. Also, the fact that Senna's humanity, amply demonstrated with regard to the people of his country, could have been underlined with regard to his fellow drivers by giving some time to the (briefly seen in the end credits) incident where he stopped his car on the track and ran back to assist Eric Comas following an accident at Spa in 1992.

Perhaps the film is a little harsh on Alain Prost, but, as I wrote earlier, this documentary captures my memories well. Prost was a difficult driver to like, because he was always so calculating (I have the same opinion of Michael Schumacher - I don't want cold-blooded winners, I want ones where I am not sure what is going to happen), but was he really as bad as painted here? I'm not sure.

This film is very accessible - there were a lot of people in the cinema who were probably not alive when Senna died, and they seemed to be as affected by the drama as I was. The accidents that took the lives of Ratzenberger and Senna in the same weekend are truly horrifying on the big screen - and I remember seeing them when they happened - and I was not the only one dabbing at my eyes after each one.

To cut a long story short - I hope the DVD has a "director's cut", with a lot more about a man who could have done so much had he lived longer.
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Emotional roller-coaster
MovieCritic20116 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Every once in a while, upon visiting the cinema, you experience a movie like no other. A movie which leaves on the edge of your seat, leaving you with the most extreme of emotions, ending with a fitting climax and warranting a tissue or two. "Senna" does just that armed only with hours of archive footage, a magnificent soundtrack and a compelling tale of triumph and despair.

Admittedly, I'm obsessed with Formula 1, so I naturally made it my priority to go and see this film, a priority requiring me to go to a cinema on the far side of the country. I was aware of the major success that this movie was, but I needed to see it for myself to believe. I wasn't disappointed. It was absolutely incredible! The first 5 minutes warrant patience as the movie kicks into gear, but from there on in it is a piece of cinematic genius.

The array of unseen footage included in the film was a huge surprise for me, and is seriously useful for unraveling the enigma that is Ayrton Senna throughout the movie. It really focuses on his intense rivalry with Alain Prost throughout the movie. It was the defining rivalry of their era, as the greatest drivers of their generation went toe to toe for supremacy within the McLaren team. It also brings to light the unseen element of Senna, the devout Christian, the man who felt a deep humanitarian responsibility to his native people in Brazil. In the midst of an unfair regime and national poverty, Senna was a glimmer of hope to all.

When the clips of May 1 1994 were echoed around the cinema, I could fell the build-up of tears in my eyes, and as it showed Alain Prost holding Senna's helmet at the funeral, and the streets lined by thousands upon thousands upon thousands to try and get a glimpse of their godly sporting superstar, it was all too much. As the credits rolled, so did the outburst of emotion. Not only is this film recommendable for anybody with a burning passion for motor sport, but for anybody with the slightest bit of compassion, anybody who has a soul and anybody who possesses life. It is truly incredible....
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Sublime but...
motif20 September 2011
This film's style is as sublime as its protagonist, but that perhaps is its flaw.

The film is more a piece of reverence for a man who attempted and accomplished, sublime performance, perhaps even something greater. This is where the director wants our minds, and he's not wrong for that, but then the film is more about him and his idea, than about Senna.

I read up on Senna after seeing the film and while nothing shockingly contradictory was revealed, some of the human nuances that would have rounded out his character were left out of this narrative. Instead, all the story's conflict is external, and he, the victim.

In truth, he did bring many problems on himself. He was a fierce competitor. There is no blame here, but the film just didn't show a flaw in the man, which we all know is unrealistic.

It also romanticized the idea that because he was Brazilian, he had hardships making his way in the European-centric formula 1 world. Brazil, in fact, had many great drivers before Senna. Therefore, it was more convenient to twist things this way to the director's fantasy of life, than painting a more complex and flawed man in Senna.

Without these issues, I would have voted 10.

Still, beautiful film, beautiful human being.
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Gripping, moving..frightening
rajat0122 October 2011
A must see for formula 1 and motor-sport fans. Formula 1 used to be different from what we see today and, in addition to this unique insight into Ayrton's life, it also brings a lot of F1's skeletons out of the closet.

I have never watched a documentary so moving. Right from the brilliant on-board footage of the racing cars to very real narrative by Ayrton himself.

Brilliant work. The entire film is made with archived footage, most of which is very rare. The filmmakers do a great job of bringing some of the key characters in F1, and in Ayrton's personal life to the forefront.
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A powerful film
whatthefat-138-68790219 August 2011
For me, this was an extremely emotional film. At the age of 10, Senna was my idol, and I was fortunate enough to be there to see him take his final victory. Reliving those moments on the big screen was a truly exhilarating (and tear-jerking) experience.

I have consumed volumes of Senna-related material over the years, so to say that this film adds something substantive means a lot. Of course, the stories themselves won't be new to a lot of motor racing fans, but there is something delicious and comforting in the retelling of a beautiful fable. And the film makers are to be congratulated for paring a complex story down to its dramatic essentials, while maintaining the necessary context and without reducing it to a Hollywood narrative. They certainly did a much better job of conveying what Senna was to my girlfriend than I could ever do. The fact that she thoroughly enjoyed the film - and came out of it with a good understanding of many of the nuances of Senna's life - despite being ardently anti-racing speaks volumes.

If I have any criticism, it is the lack of audio/visual sync up in many of the onboard shots. And in one shot there are audible gear changes when Senna is supposedly stuck in sixth gear. For the casual viewer these count for little, but for a racing connoisseur these mistakes are like nails on a chalkboard. It's hard to believe that the film was previewed by anyone with a deep understanding of motor sport. One could also criticize the film for telling only one side of a complex history (Senna's), but given the film's scope that is no fault at all in my opinion.

All in all, this is a beautiful documentary. It is well-paced, with a perfect running time and wonderful score. I highly recommend it, to racing fans and film fans alike.
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A cross between action movie and documentary
dj_ghosie28 March 2011
Having no definite release date in my country I've decided to import the Bluray directly from Japan when it was released on Senna's birthday, it turns out that it doesn't matter whether I watch it at home first, I definitely wouldn't miss the chance to watch it on the big screen again. The visual impact on the viewers cannot be substituted unless you have a mini-cinema installed at your home. It is as amazing as this!

For anyone following Formula 1, Senna is more than a household name, it's an equal sign! The story told won't be anything new to the fans yet for those who doesn't know the Man, you'll be in love with him by the end of it.

The movie itself captivate the viewers by the smooth flow of the movie, every moment is gripping, attention to details can be felt everywhere. Without spoiling the movie itself, personally I think some of the clips appeared in the end credit should be included in the movie itself as it helps to solidify the Man's character.

The reason for the vote from reaching a 10/10 is that the length of this documentary/movie is too short. You cannot get enough of the Man, as in real life, sadly...
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F1 Fans: Watch This Documentary
Eddie Francis20 November 2012
The finest film I've ever seen about Formula One, let alone about the genius of Ayrton.

Riveting from the first, this makes you feel like you know the man - both the good and the bad. You see him with his family and his fellow drivers. you hear him talk about what drives him, and what makes him go that one step further than anyone else was brave enough (or good enough?) to take.

The staggering events of the fateful weekend are shown simply and quietly. A fitting way to show a loss that affected millions around the world.

Watch it. It's magnificent, beautiful, painful, and inspiring.
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Starrman2129 December 2012
You don't have to be a fan of auto racing to appreciate and enjoy the film "Senna". From the start of the film to it's historical tragic are pulled into the world of open wheel racing and the life of legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.

Some people are born to do one thing and in Ayrton Senna's life he chased the dream of being the best driver of the world, welcomed the controversy and challenges that comes and welcomed the burden and responsibility with being as important to his country as anyone had ever been in Brazil's history.

Through it all, you are pulled towards the energy and confidence Senna exuded as a race car driver, you feel his passion, at times you bristle at his brash demeanor towards his racing peers but you understand and marvel at Senna the whole time. He made every car he drove better, he made every team better whom he drove for and ultimately he became the driver that everyone else wished they could be.

A perspective that this film also shows is the razor edge nature of the drivers respecting the sport and the ever changing political climate that seems to be a constant shadow of Formula One racing. No driver was ever in control, no team owner was going to get an edge.

In Senna's case, it was apparent that his success would always be envied by those who had more...yet he was the driver that everyone wanted at any price...his excellence as a driver was always on display...the glamor of being the best ever never seemed to phase him.

In the end, the film humanizes Senna to the audience and to see his mortality on trial, he knew he loved racing, he knew he could win with any car on any track under any conditions and ultimately he knew it could all go away within seconds...

Senna's impact to his sport will forever be footnoted. His impact to the people of Brazil will be timeless...Ayrton Senna was Brazil's first son.

This film is a's human, heartwarming, touching, poignant and tragic...
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Blown Away
paulespie13 August 2011
What a movie! What a driver! What a sad sad ending! I never truly appreciated Senna the way I should have done. In those days I was in the Mansell camp wishing that Senna would stop being so hard to beat and that he and Prost would keep knocking one another out of races. Saying that I also supported Borg when McEnroe was spouting his mouth off in the early 80s and now I appreciate what he did for the game! Obviously with documentaries like this the temptation is to take everything literally. Was Senna treated with the contempt that is portrayed in the movie? Were the thoughts of Senna truly translated when people make claims of how he felt at certain times? All I know is that he is a man who should be remembered as the greatest! Its what these men can do when the cars are not the best..... and with exception to a few successful years with McLaren he didn't have the best (or even close to the best).

Left me in tears as a true genius was taken away from us. RIP
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Brilliant documentary packs an emotional punch
Tom Rooney20 July 2011
I knew absolutely nothing about Grand Prix racing when I went to see this. But it blew me away. It was absolutely brilliant, probably the best film of the year so far. And these are my reasons why.

First of all, the way it was made was amazing. The film has no new footage at all; it is entirely made up of 100% archive material. It is amazing how they pulled off such a feat, and it really added to the film's unique feel. You're essentially seeing everything described in the documentary as it happened. It really does add a lot of emotion to it. The ending is extremely powerful. It shows Senna's crash, and what follows is a really emotional montage of the distress and sorrow it caused in Brazil. I have to admit, I was holding back tears.

Overall, this was a truly brilliant film, and probably the best of the year hands down. I give it 9/10.
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An epic ride with an interesting man
I'm not a F1 fan but this documentary captured me emotionally. It was an awesome experience.

What makes the film so great is that its more than about racing, its about Ayrton Senna and his intensity and drive. His courage is truly admirable and his skill as is evident from the footage is almost mythical.

We follow Senna through his life very closely. Everything in the documentary is focused on Senna. There's very little cuts to show interviewees talking, mostly its just their voice in the background and the camera will be showing footage of Senna or from Senna's perspectives. Its makes for a very engrossing movie, you feel like you are living through Senna's life, bit by bit, and understanding his troubles, his competition, his interest, his dreams and his happiness.

In the start of the film, we see the competition between Senna and another great driver Prost, and this is captured magnificently.

But as the film progresses, the thing that makes this film so great is that we begin to realise that the real obstacle, the real competitor, that these young men faced were the cars and the race itself. Despite knowing the dangers involved, the drivers still race and we admire them for this.

My heart was beating loudly in the final sequences of the film (you'll know what I mean). The onboard cockpit views shows the legendary speed with which Senna tackled the road. Its truly amazing.
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Life At The Limit
ShootingShark23 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A documentary about Brazilian Formula One motor racing triple world champion Ayrton Senna Da Silva, cited by many as the greatest driver of all time, who died tragically aged thirty-four in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994.

I'm a Formula One fan, and while there have been many truly outstanding drivers in this incredible sport it is no exaggeration to say that perhaps none have been as talented, fast, intense, intelligent and enigmatic as the great Ayrton Senna. This outstanding film gives an insightful window into his world, wisely choosing to use only authentic footage from his life and career combined with some voice-over work, but no talking heads or cutaways to distract us from the drama. With a symphonic score, it somehow plays more like a drama than a documentary, albeit one populated with real people and events, as we see Senna's struggle for recognition, his defining moments, his often bitter rivalry with the brilliant French driver Prost (whose style was the polar opposite), his frequent abuse by the authorities who didn't like him, and the terrible events at Imola, which also claimed the life of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger. That Senna was an incredible racer is in no doubt, but he was also an extraordinary personality; he was a forthright ambassador for his country and helped enormously with its social problems, he was a deeply religious and philosophical man, and he seemed to be constantly chasing perfection in everything he did. Comparing anyone to Christ is fairly ridiculous, but Senna is one of the few where the analogy is legitimate - unlike almost all sporting heroes who strive for personal glory, it has always seemed to me Senna was carrying the weight and expectations of others; his fans, his country, his team, the money men. It's as if we were all saying, come on Senna, show us the magic, push it further and faster than anyone else dares. Which he did, and which never backed down from until he paid the ultimate price, to our irrevocable loss. His search was for a kind of spiritual truth in speed, and his accomplishments speak for themselves. He was simply an extraordinary man. A great film by Kapadia, the director of The Warrior, The Return and Far North, produced by Working Title and distributed by Universal Pictures.
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No where near as good as it should have been.
sean08886 February 2013
As a very keen motor racing fan who saw most of A. Senna's F1 races, (including the race where his car crashed at Imola as a result of a serious mechanical failure), I thought the film was very understated and did not do sufficient justice to one of the most outstanding motor racing drivers of the post WW2 era.

I have seen the DVD with the narrated commentary by the makers of the film. It explains why they chose the scenes they did and offers a great deal of explanation of events but none of this information was included in the film. It assumed audiences already knew quite a bit about this man.

The problems with the movie included:

1. Very minimal narration which left audiences trying to grasp what was really happening at times and lost the opportunity to tell the audience a much richer and more complete story.

2. An appearance in the film that he jumped from go-cart racing straight into F1. No one does that and he didn't either. He was driving Formula Fords and then Formula 3 cars successfully over a period of 3 years before progressing to F1.

2. Very, very poor descriptions of the man's amazing results in just 10 full years in F1 including 4 of those years in second rate cars. (see below).

3. Poor reflections of just how he managed - by pure talent - to consistently out drive his competitors so convincingly with only minimal evidence of just how talented he was. There was no reason why the film should have been limited to only 100 minutes when another 10 minutes of footage could have shown and added so much more.

4. Insufficient descriptions of just how committed he was to the safety and well being of other drivers. During the end credits you see a film of a driver stop and jump out of his car during practice and put his own life in danger to sprint back down the track (in the face of other cars) to the aid of another driver that had crashed and was sitting injured in his car across the track. This should have been part of the movie, explained and highlighted because it showed what a magnificent human being that driver was. It was Senna of course. They don't make them like that anymore - at least not in F1.

5. There were massive investigations following the Senna crash at Imola, not to mention court cases but none of this was mentioned in the film. It was clearly established that a major mechanical failure in the car (steering column) had caused the crash leaving Senna a passenger in a car racing at 330 km per hour. None of this was covered in the film (other than one minor speculative comment) leaving audiences (who did not know) wondering what had really gone wrong.

I could go on but I won't. The film underwhelmed me and is found wanting. It could have been just so much better and so much more emotional and heart breaking. A great deal of improvement could have been made with much more factual narration which would not have even added to run time.

The man's achievements at death were amazing but these were never shown to the audience. Here they are and the list is indicative of what a great race driver and champion this guy was:

A. Senna held and in most of cases below still holds the following Formula One records:

  • Most wins leading the entire race... 19

  • Most consecutive pole positions... 8 consecutive pole positions

  • Most consecutive starts from front row... 24

  • Most consecutive wins at the same Grand Prix... 5 wins in a row at the Monaco Grand Prix (1989 Monaco Grand Prix–1993 Monaco Grand Prix)

  • Most consecutive pole positions at the same Grand Prix... 7 pole positions in a row at the San Marino Grand Prix (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991)

  • Most pole positions at the same Grand Prix... 8 pole positions at the San Marino Grand Prix (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994)

  • Starts from front row in every race of a season... 16 out of 16 front row starts in 1989

  • Most seasons leading the pole-position statistics... 6 (in 1985,1986, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991)

A. Senna also held the following records at the time of his death:

  • Most pole positions... 65

  • Most laps led ...2,982

-Longest distance led... 13,672 km

  • Most GPs led... 86

  • Most Doubles (pole and win, same GP race)... 29

  • Most Front Row starts... 87

  • Youngest triple world champion... 31 years,227 days

  • Youngest driver to score a Grand Slam (pole, win, fastest lap, led every lap) ...25 years, 31 days
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Perhaps the greatest biographical documentary
Revant Shah12 October 2012
Senna is often remembered as the greatest racing driver of all times, not only in Formula1 but in Motorsports. However, not a lot of people know about his life or even his racing, which ended in 1994. These days, one would just look at his records and/or some YouTube footage of his races to gain an insight on the man. Even I belong in this category. I never got to see any of Senna's race on TV. I looked at his records and never understood why he was often called the greatest racing driver who ever lived. Well, now I do. This movie shows why he is one of the greatest racing drivers of all times.

This is a beautiful movie. It is mostly a documentary and consists of a lot of racing footage and interviews by Senna and several other people in F1 during his time. There is good amount soundtrack throughout it though which gives it more of a movie feel than a documentary. It is also the best documentary I have ever watched. The more you watch it, the more you gain perspective towards life of a man who was truly a legend. Don't dismiss this even if you are not into F1 or Motorsports. I think the beginning 20 minutes maybe hard to follow for someone who isn't into racing but it's mostly the event in Senna's life, his attitude and his intensity that make this documentary so interesting. The movie is very intense and almost left me in tears at the end (rarely happens with a documentary).

Also, this movie has quickly become very popular among racing fans all over the world. If you follow F1, like me, then you will hear many references to Senna and this movie every now and then so it's almost a necessity to watch this. Overall, a great documentary and I could watch this in a movie theater if they play.
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