If you ask any Formula 1 fan who the greatest driver in the history of F1 is they will all say Ayrton Senna. It doesn’t matter which team they support or if they’d never seen him race “live” Senna’s status is legendary. He was an amazing driver whose life was cut short in a fatal accident at the Imola Grand Prix in 1994, and that devastating weekend changed the sport forever.
It was incredibly well timed that the Ayrton Senna documentary got a limited release last weekend the perfect thing to cheer up Alex (not that he really needed cheering up but you know what I mean). So on Sunday afternoon after a good lunch at DBGB we trundled off to the cinema along with every other Formula 1 fan in the vicinity and some from further a field (the people behind us had driven up from Atlanta – 900 miles!). That really sums up Senna’s lasting appeal.
Using only preexisting footage Asif Kapadia, the director, weaves together a compelling narrative charting Senna’s early life in Brazil to the crash at Imola. It’s a spell binding tale, and we are privileged to see family videos and those from the FIA drivers’ meetings alongside more familiar clips. I really liked that Kapadia made the decision not to inter-cut the footage with interviews but instead used them as voice overs to help tell the story. The focus is solely on Senna and we are allowed no distractions. Even if you don’t know that much about Formula 1 it makes a compelling documentary: rivalries between drivers, internal politics and exotic locales. You can see why it has done so well on the festival circuit, and why 95% of the audience stayed in their seats until the final credits.
If it is showing near you, and you can get a ticket (it’s sold out its limited run in NYC) go watch it and you won’t be disappointed. Or at the very least add it to your Netflix list.