Director: Asif Kapadia
Running Time: 104 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A
UK Release Date: 3rd June 2011
Watched at the Cinema Saturday 9th July 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
My local cinema is only small, it only has two screens and consequently, to make money, they have to show a lot of mainstream films. Most of these don’t interest me too much and I sometimes despair that they will ever show anything like this. So you can imagine my surprise when the weekly email I receive from them listing the upcoming films included this little gem. I’ve had it on ‘The List’ (that’s my ‘To See’ list for those that don’t know) for some time and always thought I’d end up seeing it on TV. But no, the Picture House are showing it! Admittedly it’s only for two screenings, but they’re actually showing a film I never thought I’d see on the big screen.
Two of us went to the first screening; myself, a Formula One fan for many years and my buddy Dave, who isn’t into Formula One but is a bit of a connoisseur of film. He had heard about this one and was interested to give it the once over. The film tells the story of the Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna from his early days in carting through his rise to fame and fortune in Formula One to his untimely death in an accident in 1994. We are told about the feud he had with fellow driver, Alain Prost, and the battles they had both on and off the track. How he dealt with the politics of the sport and how he became a huge star, giving hope to millions, back home in Brasil. And also the thoughts of those involved in his life and career.
I love the way this film was put together, there is no commentary and no interviews with people made after the fact. It’s all archive footage and interviews, mostly with Senna himself, that tells the story. As has been said many time before, real life can be so much better than fiction and this story has so much drama and emotion in it I firmly believe, in this case at least, it’s true. The section of the film concerning his death I remember watching events unfold live on TV very well. It was the blackest day on Formula One history and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. In the film it is very emotional and even Dave admitted to shedding a manly tear at one point.
To many, Ayrton Senna was the greatest driver ever to race in Formula One. I’ll admit that I wasn’t his greatest fan when he raced; I wanted the British drivers to win (of course). I always admired his talent though, and now I know more about him I am inclined to think that, yes, he was one of the greatest. This is a truly remarkable film and one I can highly recommend to fans of the sport and those that don’t follow it. It’s a remarkable story and one I’m sure you will find yourself thinking about for a long time afterwards.
My Score: 9.2/10