'Senna' looks at the life of Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian Formula One superstar, but gives little time to his off-track existence.
The Brazilian Formula One racing car champion Ayrton Senna was a well-born superstar whose 10-year career ended at age 34 with a fatal accident in San Marino in 1994. Director Asif Kapadia’s documentary “Senna” covers the driver’s life from his early go-kart days right through to the end and dispenses with the usual talking-heads approach.
Friends, family, colleagues, and sports commentators were interviewed but are heard only in voice-over. Because Senna, who had movie-star looks and a knack for self-promotion, was filmed continuously throughout his career, virtually all of the film’s footage is archival. Kapadia’s research team had over 15,000 hours of footage to draw on, from 10 countries.
Will “Senna” appeal to people who don’t know or care about Formula One racing? That’s certainly the thinking behind it, but I’m not so sure. Because the film is almost exclusively connected to the racing, with Senna’s off-track life slipped in almost as filler, the cumulative effect is somewhat wearying – life as a series of races.