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Simply fantastic
dave_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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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F1 Fans: Watch This Documentary
cyclonearmageddon20 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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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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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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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
thomas-101-21390320 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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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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Senna (2010)
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.
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hitchcockthelegend23 October 2011
It's true you know, you really don't have to be a fan of Motor Racing to enjoy, be fascinated by or touched by Senna. Much like Julian Temple's Sex Pistols music documentary encompassed the climate of the times, looked at the press and public reactions to something making waves in the entertainment world, so too Senna is dealing with more than a big name racing driver who tragically lost his life at Imola racing circuit in 1994. Director Asif Kapadi and his team have constructed an in depth and poignant picture that follows Ayrton Senna of Brazil from his humble Karting beginnings, right up to that fateful day on 1st May 94 when a country as one sank to its knees in mourning for the man who was their one joy in a country full of hurt and political confusion.

Ayrton was a genius in the rain.

On the driving/racing side the fascination comes from learning how Senna pushed himself to greatness, a very driven man who was never shy in coming forward. He challenged authority when needed and his on going career spat with Alain Prost often made the news for the wrong reasons, these are insightful and excellent splinters of the film. Incredible feats achieved in the car, like how he finally achieved one of his greatest ambitions, and won the Brazillian Grand Prix with a broken gear box stuck in 6th gear! Things he did seemed like magic to his millions of fans, very religious he felt very close to God, some of his driving had the air of a deity about it! Of course it's all building towards the tragedy, where it hits hard and even there there's a mysticism about proceedings. Foreboding warnings that came when Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed the day before Senna, the Brazillian's reaction unerringly prophetic.

He would take the car beyond its design capabilities.

It's not warts and all, Kapadi has said that the Senna family oversaw production and much of the maverick driver's persona has been smoothed over. It's also worth mentioning that it's no rags to riches story, Senna was no Slumdog about to become a Millionaire. But this is real, a real man with a real interesting story, a story strung together with real clips and real home footage, not some hack job where a number of people from the same field share their own thoughts on a star that no longer shines. The Blu-ray release offers both an extended cut and the theatrical release, the former contains an extra hour but nothing of significance is gained. That cut is probably more for die hard F1 fans. At 1hr 45m the theatrical cut does an exceptional job by always being compelling with not a dull moment in sight. Quite simply this is one of the best sports person documentaries out there. 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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Thrilling documentary about a captivating man
tomgillespie200223 June 2011
The documentary genre, in my opinion, is capable of reaching heights that is impossible for regular features. It has the advantage of being true, and a fascinating story told well that happens to be true is always going to be that little bit more special. True, it can be used as a propaganda tool, but after the documentary boom that started near to that start of the millennium (and it still going strong), the genre has been taken to new heights. And with Senna, a profoundly moving and thoroughly exciting film, it has blended documentary film-making with drama, action and a genuinely touching rags-to-riches tale that goes way beyond the sport of car racing.

Ayrton Senna was a Brazilian Formula One racing driver, who took the sport by storm in the mid-eighties with his no-holds barred attitude to driving, fierce competitiveness, and patriotism for his native country. Senna was simply untouchable. Tensions rose when his McLaren-Honda partner Alain Prost accused him of being reckless and dangerous in his driving, and the two fought for dominance until Prost eventually left. Yet Senna was always at the forefront at campaigning for safer conditions for him and his fellow professionals in the face of the politics of the sport, and it seemed inevitable that the sport would tragically kill him in 1994.

Being a person that usually falls asleep whenever Formula One appears on my television, I was more interested to see a documentary about the man himself. But kudos must go to director Asif Kapadia, as I was completely caught up in the archival footage of the races themselves. Added to the fact I didn't have a clue who won what, it was made all the more exciting. The film starts at a running pace and never lets up, much like Senna himself. It is never sidetracked and the pace is never held up by the use of talking heads - Kapadia instead has small soundbites playing over the footage, and therefore we never leave Senna.

The man himself, who I knew next to nothing about before seeing the film, seems as enigmatic and as captivating as his reputation precedes. He is portrayed here as spiritual, intelligent and warm. His rivalry with Alain Prost is often shown a little one-sided, with Prost being initially a bit demonised, but it makes the sight of Senna stood with him on the champions podium with their arms around each other years later, and eventually Prost carrying Senna's coffin, all the more profoundly moving.

As the tragic ends approaches, Kapadia shows how the drivers were getting increasingly concerned about safety, and Senna is always at the forefront of it. Here the film takes on an almost apocalyptic tone, as Senna's tragic death approaches. As the camera focuses on and studies Senna's face as he prepares for the race, it's almost as if he knows. He looks unsure, concerned, and yet somehow resigned to his fate. As if this is something he must do for the greater good. Perhaps I'm almost romanticising his death, but I was captivated by the man, and when the end came, I was deeply touched.

A powerful documentary about a fascinating sportsman, and although it's not going to get me into the sport, I certainly have a new-found respect for it.
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Winning formula
Lejink17 May 2012
I'm not a great fan of Formula One motor racing and wasn't intimately aware of the life and times of the late Ayrton Senna but I've always admired sporting geniuses with a touch of the maverick about them (think George Best, Alex Higgins, Seve Ballesteros, Muhammad Ali and others) and after seeing this rivetingly exciting documentary, would certainly grant the same status to Senna.

Concentrating almost entirely on his Formula One years, with only a brief introduction to his beginnings as the go-kart crazy child to well-off parents in the almost otherwise universally poor country of Brazil, we chart his speedy rise through the ranks until he reaches the pinnacle of his success with three World Championship successes at the end of the 80's and early 90's where he frequently clashed with the racing authorities and some of his sporting rivals , particularly his nemesis, the French "professor" Alain Prost. Theirs indeed was one of the great sporting rivalries like Ali/Frazier or Borg/McEnroe where opposites (in terms of temperament) repelled.

Senna's career was very much in the spotlight right from the start and while we get to see many of his greatest races demonstrating aptly his singular talent on the track, it's arguably even more interesting to see a little behind the man, particularly his concern for driver safety on the circuit, his massive popularity in his native Brazil and his closeness to his family, although we get only glimpses of his relationships with the women in his life. Told in chronological order, the film naturally ends in graphic tragedy at the 1993 San Marino grand-prix, ironically the day after another young driver died in a crash in practice.

The movie makes a virtue of not using a narrative voice-over, using instead commentaries both contemporary and retrospective by those who knew him at work and at play, together with many interviews with the man himself.

What comes across, not surprisingly, is a picture of a driven individual, but also with charisma and a social conscience. This film won't make me a fan of Formula One but it did make me a fan of Ayrton Senna.
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A very well told story from start to finish – great documentary
bob the moo26 January 2013
I think I started watching Formula 1 around the mid-90's whenever Hill, Hakkinen, Schumacher and Colutard were the big names and I think I stopped as those names started to retire from the sport, so my window of interest was pretty limited and my base of knowledge about the sport was even more so. Senna was only ever a name to me rather than someone I had followed and, although I knew he was a great driver and had tragically died, that was about the end of it and it was the critical praise for this film that brought me to it rather than a specific interest in him or his story. So it is to the film's credit that I was engaged throughout and thought that the story was very well told using only archive footage.

The film is a documentary but rather than filming talking heads relating the events, the film uses archive footage to play out the story as if it had been filmed. Of course the end is known and there is a lot of talking in the past tense but the film delivers a story rather than a reflection. Technically it is very impressive and must have taken ages to go through all the old footage, but the media coverage of the period has allowed this film to pick the footage that they would have chosen to film if they had to make it from scratch. We get the good side of his character, we get the conflict, the controversy and of course a sense of how great he was – all of it is delivered via the footage and makes for a great story. The ending being known doesn't really damage how this story plays out because, if anything, it is well used to add significance to some of the footage that comes before and indeed does give the film a tragic air that is effective and adds to how involving it is.

Senna is a great documentary and it will not only work for those with an interest in the sport or the person, it is such a well-delivered story that it will also engage those with a passing interest. The selection and use of the footage is really well done to play it out and the film benefits from not visually jumping forward in time by using filmed contributions looking back. A tragic story but a really engaging and well-told one.
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Fantastic Documentary
thusjames20 November 2012
I had no previous knowledge of Senna or his accomplishments before watching this film. The man and his story instantly captivated me. Brilliantly done..without having ever met then man I can honestly say I am drawn to the passion and conviction of a Brazilian great. You can't help but like the man.

He was an incredible driver who will likely go down as one of the greatest if not the greatest drive of all time. I was never really into F1 but after watching this movie it's caused some personal intrigue towards the sport.

Overall a very well done movie that is gripping from start to finish. For anyone that wants to experience a fantastic and inspiring documentary: Watch Senna!
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Thoroughly engaging documentary
Leofwine_draca4 October 2012
I should say from the outset that I have no particular interest in watching Formula 1 racing, or any sport for that matter. The arts (movies, books, etc.) is where my interests lie. So the look of this documentary about one of racing's most tragic figures didn't appeal to me at all. Then I noticed it was directed by Asif Kapadia, who handled FAR NORTH, one of my favourites in recent years, so I decided to give it a run.

It turns out to be an excellent documentary, one that takes great pains to really get into the psyche of its subject matter. You come away from having watched this with a feeling that you've really learned something about F1 and the men who participate; Kapadia, as usual, gets to the heart of his subject matter and gives it his all.

SENNA is a technical marvel; the editing, which is a big part of any documentary, is handled admirably and the pacing of the narrative is just right. The way the storyline is shaped into a bitter battle of rivalry between Senna and Prost makes it entirely watchable, and I deny anyone to be moved by the poignant ending. Altogether, it's a great movie, and one I'm pleased to see got the attention it deserved.
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