Remember where you were when you found out John Lennon died? How about Princess Diana or even Jeff Buckley? I remember where I was when I saw Ayrton Senna die. It is a moment etched into my memory, easily recognisable and quick to recall. I was 14.
How do you say something about Ayrton Senna that hasn't been said? The Brazilian racing hero's life has been picked apart and put up for display since before his shock death in '94. From karting to becoming world champion, nothing about Senna is new but British film maker, Asif Kapadia, has done his best to bring Senna to the big screen.
Senna is bittersweet. Throughout the film I was on the edge of tears while supporting a grin as big as my face. No matter how you look at it, it's a film you already know the ending to. How ever many times you visit the story, Ayrton Senna still dies in '94. I felt as if I wanted to pause the film, just to save the grief of loosing him again. I sank in my chair as the film finally reached Imola, 1994.
Personally, I know most of the facts that are publicly known about Ayrton, I was interested to observe how other reviewers perceived the film. The start of the '94 season was a low for me in the film. The inevitable was fast approaching yet, another reviewer, a woman, laughed out loud as the film recounts the changes to the rules on car electronics. I was angry at her for laughing at one of the changes to Formula 1 that contributed to Senna's death yet, she didn't know it. She doesn't know Senna like I do. Yeah, it is laughable that as soon as Senna made it to Williams in search of the fastest car the rules would change. The odds were always against Senna.
Ayrton Senna was a man of many facets. While everyone loves a winner, Senna did a lot more to earn the love and admiration of an entire country. While talking about what made Ayrton great, I feel this film too easily became a chronological list of events. A roll call of what came next while interlaced with obvious observations. Senna was a hero to Brazil but what did that truly mean? If you are looking to delve deeper into Ayrton's life, Senna may leave you feeling flat as it falls well short of anything meaningful.
I enjoyed Senna, even if just for the excuse of watching Ayrton for 106 minutes. For the fan, this movie wont bring any new ground. There is absolutely no mention about the trial that followed the Williams team around for the next 13 years till its outcome finding Patrick Head culpable for Senna's death. The film almost solely focuses on Senna's time with McLaren and his relationship with Ron Dennis. Senna could easily delve far further into Ayrton's world.
This isn't the greatest documentary but it's clearly being enjoyed around the world. Who am I to argue with the world, if you can sit through a biography about a racing driver, jump right in there and give it a go.
Senna is out in Australia on August 11th.