Review: Senna

Since he was just a boy growing up in Brazil, Artyon Senna was always passionate about motorsport. He began living his dreams when he entered Formula One and was a successful rookie. In this film about his life in the sport, the corruption of Formula One is highlighted as well as the fierce competition between himself and the French diver Prost and the real dangers of being a Formula One racing driver.

This is how film documentaries should be made – with a story. From beginning to end it’s like watching any other film at the cinema, with a character with a dream and a blind faith. The documentary could easily fool you into thinking it is a film because there is no cheesy dramatisation and technical jargon. There are narrations from many people within the industry who add all of the information you need to learn about the man and not the sport itself. This film is beautifully crafted so that even if you’re not remotely interested in Formula One, you will still appreciate that this is a brilliant film and one which has surprised not just the critics but the film makers themselves.

The success of the film in UK cinemas saw the film being shown in cinemas nationwide, not just art-house ones, and because of this the film is now being shown all over the world and is receiving some fantastic praise from viewers in America. It is a documentary film with heart and is incredibly moving.

Artyon Senna was killed whilst racing for Renault in 1994. Senna is a film which tells his life throughout his motorsport career until his tragic death and you can’t help but grow attached to this likable Brazilian driver, like you would to any good character in a book or film. But when his death happens and you see rare footage from his funeral, it’s quite overwhelming because here was a life that was taken away too soon and is still fresh in the mind of people today.

It’s surprising, and perhaps that’s another reason that makes this film a gem. There isn’t a film quite like this one which can appeal to a wide range of people. Some of the footage from crashes over the years can be a little upsetting because it really hits home that these were real people. From this you might just appreciate racing drivers today who have to train hard and do risk their lives every time they sit behind the wheel of a Formula One racing car.

Perhaps the only fault of this film is the way that the rival racing driver Prost is shown in such a bad way as well as his relationship with the head of the FIA. It does demonstrate corruption and is compelling to watch, but without a doubt, it’s very likely that Prost himself wouldn’t be too satisfied with how he has been portrayed in this film (although he does do a little narration). Saying that, it has been dramatized in this sense but that does make the film compelling adding all of the elements you need for a good story – two rivals, corruption and a tragic death.

But Senna wasn’t just a racing driver – he used his wealth to help children and become an idol of hope for the people of Brazil who were going through a difficult time with their widening rich and poor divide. The scenes of the Brazilian public lining the streets for hours to catch a glimpse of Senna’s coffin is something to marvel at. Perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching moments is from his funeral: his mother picks up his helmet resting on his coffin and kisses the top of it whilst grieving.

Senna is double sided because it will make you cry and also make you laugh. It is a well crafted and brilliantly directed film which steers away from the word documentary which can tend to put people off. Quite a lot of the footage is new and unseen and you really come to know Senna as if he was someone you knew. This is a film, and so don’t underestimate it. You could finish watching it with tears on your face or with a bittersweet smile. 

To win a copy and see this film in all its glory go here and don’t forget that Senna is now available on DVD and Blu-ray!

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