Ayrton Senna Gains Pole Position on my List
by Nicholas Robinson
The story of the monumental life and tragic death of legendary Brazilian motor-racing Champion, Ayrton Senna. Spanning the decade from his arrival in Formula One in the mid 80’s, the film follows Senna’s struggles both on track against his nemesis, French World Champion Alain Prost, and off it, against the politics which infest the sport. Sublime, spiritual yet, on occasion, ruthless – Senna conquers and transcends Formula One to become a global superstar. Privately, he is humble, almost shy, and fiercely patriotic, donating millions to his native Brasil and contemplating a life beyond motor-racing. Yet he is struck down in his prime on the blackest weekend in the history of the sport, watched live on television by 300 million people. Years on he is revered in Formula One as the greatest motor racing driver of all time – and in Brasil as a Saint. – IMDB.com
Before this summer, I REFUSED to watch any sort of documentary because to me it was like school. Some people sit in a chair and talk to me about a subject for 90 minutes. However, my brother decided to sit me down and make me watch a documentary, Man on Wire (which I reviewed on this site) and I was amazed. My mind just couldn’t believe that documentaries could be good. In fact, I was so amazed that I just HAD to sit down this Christmas and watch this 3 hour long documentary.
What this documentary did with the story is the same thing that Man on Wire did (which I loved), which is that instead of just having someone sit and talk to me for 90 minutes (in this case 3 hours) with some intercut footage is that it had mainly actual footage from this man’s life with his interviews, his races, him on vacation, driver’s meetings and when there was no commentary (for races) or people speaking in the footage, there was either music or voiceovers of the interviews done for the documentary and it had me engaged for the entire 3 hours and for a DOCUMENTARY to do that for me…. is great.
I have never been interested in watching Formula One on TV or in fact any racecar driving at all. However, every time they showed a race in this documentary it blew me away with the air of excitement that is in the crowd and the commentators as Ayrton Senna is driving not only having physical driving battles with his opponents (especially Alain Prost) but the psychological ones as well and it was fantastic. In fact it got me so psyched up that I was cheering when a race was on screen and I was in tears by the end when Senna transferred to the Williams/Renault team and further on his death.
The storytelling was not the only great thing in this movie but the music that went along with it. The music melded with the footage in such a way that it made me wonder if when the footage was shot the made the music to go along with it when the documentary was made because I don’t think there is any way someone took 20 year old footage and cut it together with a score that perfectly, they just couldn’t have.
In essence this documentary was perfect and if you want to introduce someone to documentaries, then show them this movie.
IMDB says 8.7/10
RT says 92%
I say 10/10