Senna – movie review

Promise I’ll tell you more when it’s over.

Update: My review

Were you ever able to see Jordan in his prime? Or how about Tiger play a round before he ran his car into a tree running from his wife? Being lucky enough to watch those who can be called the greatest ever is something that few are able to claim.

If you want to see the driver who is thought to be the greatest in F1 history, this movie is the best way to do it.

I was a wee one back in 1988 when Ayrton Senna won his first F1 championship, so my ability to go back that far and recall those events is impossible for me. My affinity for F1 over the last 6-7 year has led me to look back into the history of the sport, and in all my findings the name Senna has always come up. Listen to anyone who has been following F1 for more than 20 years and they will mention the name. Watching some youtube clips shows glimpses of what people talk about, but never has the whole picture been put together for me to fully understand what it all meant when he was called the greatest.

I’ve seen Michael Schumacher race in the rain. I’ve seen Vettel or Hamilton or Alonso make dangerous late braking passes (and crashes). What made him special? Why was it different for him compared to these drivers that I watch now?

After watching the movie, I feel like I have a better understanding. The movie follows Senna from his karting beginning in ’79. Then it jumps to 1984 with his first F1 races with Toleman where he took an uncompetative car at Monaco and raced in the rain to claim 2nd, quickly jumping to 85 with Lotus and his first win. Then it jumps to 1988 where he joins McLaren and Alain Prost as his running mate and future rival. This is where the story really settles in. The movie goes into some depth about the rivalry that developed between Senna and his McLaren teammate Prost, the agressive racing and politics surrounding them. From 88-93 the two locked horns, and in these 6 years the two drivers claimed 5 or the 6 championships.

The movie also gave you a glimpse into the personal life and personality of Senna. It showed a charming side of the man who was easy to like. It also showed his passion for racing and winning, and his disillusion of F1 when politics got in the way of racing. During an interview in the movie, Senna is asked what driver was most exciting to race against. He answers looking back to his karting days in 79-80 against an Englishman. He says that there was no money, no politics. It was just racing.

The story is something that was really engaging, the politics and drama almost didn’t need a racing background to be interesting. But, that’s what the movie is about, a race car driver. And it doesn’t disappoint. Even if you don’t want to hear about the politics or personal life, there is enough racing footage to keep you excited. Over the shoulder footage watching Senna fight with the tiny wheel at Monaco, then downshifting the car into the corner with one hand on the wheel at the most famous race track in the world. Or the footage of him in the 1991 Brazilian GP where Senna lost the gearbox and you watch him drive the whole track in 6th gear only for the last 10 laps. The exhaustion was so much afterwards that he could not lift himself from the car and had to be removed. Some of the best was the footage of Senna and Prost racing each other, many ending in crashes even when they were teammates.

I don’t have much to say to criticize the movie. Maybe if you don’t like documentaries it might be an issue as this is essentially what the movie is. It is done with little to no narration. There is commentary from family, friends, colleagues or coworkers of Senna throughout the movie, and lots of interviews with these people as well. Some on screen text to give context to the race or interviews you are seeing. It all feels very authentic as these are all people that lived in the world of Senna.

Overall I thought the movie was great. If you are interested in racing or F1 this is definitely worth watching. Crystal isn’t an F1 fan but was able to enjoy the movie, so I think that the story and personalities it covers in itself is interesting enough for those who don’t care about racing.

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2 thoughts on “Senna – movie review

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