Senna is a documentary film, directed by Asif Kapadia, which focuses on the life and career of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna. Starting with his early life as a Go Kart champion in Brazil, moving onto his arrival on the F1 circuit, through his heated rivalry with Alain Prost and all the way to his untimely death, the documentary paints the picture of a man obsessed with winning, constantly hampered in his quest by bureaucracy, back-biting and politics in one of the highest paid sports in the world.
The best moments revolve around the rivalry with Senna’s former team-mate Alain Prost. It is a story that ignited interest in the sport of F1 with the young, passionate newcomer, looking to succeed against the champion who is cold, calculating and a natural politician. It’s intriguing and shocking in parts and you’re drawn in from the very start. Throughout there are glimpses and foreshadowing of events to come, but they are played down in the beginning and build toward a crescendo in the final scenes.
The benefit of having a subject like Ayrton Senna is that you have access to hundreds of hours of footage from interviews, behind-the-scenes video diaries and family home videos. It means that Senna can tell his own story in his own words. What this allows the director to do is create a narrative that is organic. It unfolds before our eyes as if it is happening in real time. Add to this, the footage from all the Grand Prix races and you have heart-pounding, adrenaline-charged action sequences that documentaries are usually unable to employ.
Director Asif Kapadia really captures the scenes with aplomb and is able to create a coherent story throughout. It never slacks and is always full-throttle, much like it’s subject. Also the film will appeal to all viewers, not just fans of Formula 1 as the story is just so incredibly engrossing that it could be on any subject, and it would still be fantastic to watch. Senna is the best documentary in recent years.