Ok, so a couple of weeks ago I took part in the movie meme over at The Bumbles Blog. The topic was the best movie you had seen this year to date (from any time). I had picked Oldboy, a Korean movie. (see the review here) I have now changed my mind after watching Senna, a documentary/biography from last year of who I consider to be the best driver in Formula One motor racing history.
The film is an extremely candid view of Ayrton Senna’s career as a racing driver from an early age as a teenager in karts to the heights of winning the Formula One World Championship 3 times. The movie is in no way glamorized either. You get a very unique behind the scenes view of the sport itself and are even privvy to driver meeting with race directors and officials, this is something very different for every motor racing fan.
There is a balanced view of all of his career including the well publicised feud between himself and fellow driver Alain Prost and the way that it was handled by the drivers, the teams and the FIA itself. I think that on the evidence presented there were a lot of political decisions made and I don’t think they were always the right ones. Anyway, although much of the film is subtitled to cater for interviews from family members and press, you are not lost in any way and much of the narration is in English anyway.
Due to the honest view and candid shots of drivers reactions to others’ accidents and indeed there are pictures of injured and motionless drivers which really does add to the emotional experience, I don’t think I have ever watched a documentary and been so moved. We all know what happened at the end of Senna’s life at the age of just 34 at the Imola circuit and the views of his burial and state funeral in Brasil are very emotional. It is a true measure of how important this man was to his home country.
I am a fan of 70s-90s Formula One racing so any fan will enjoy this movie, but I think even if you are not a fan you cannot help but enjoy this film from English director Asif Kapadia. As I said, I now think it is the best film I have seen this year and have to give it a very rare 10/10. Thoroughly enjoyable and to see some of those classic races and what a truly driven man he was to win was a real pleasure. Its very sad in places yet invigorating at the same time. A strange experience but well worth it. Heres the trailer: