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5.0 4
Director: Asif Kapadia

Cast: Ayrton Senna, Reginaldo Leme, Richard Williams


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Buckle in and hit the blacktop with Brazilian Formula One champion Ayrton Senna as filmmaker Asif Kapadia draws on archival footage to reveal how the humble world-renowned racer blasted past the competition to become a true living legend.


Buckle in and hit the blacktop with Brazilian Formula One champion Ayrton Senna as filmmaker Asif Kapadia draws on archival footage to reveal how the humble world-renowned racer blasted past the competition to become a true living legend.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Formula One auto racing is the fastest sport on Earth and one of the most risky -- a miscalculation of a fraction of a second can mean the difference between life and death at over 200 miles per hour -- and in this game, few men were faster and better on the track than the Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, who in his ten years of Formula One competition won the world championship three times. Though Senna died in 1994 at the age of 34, he's still celebrated by race enthusiasts as one of the true greats of the sport, and in Brazil he's a hero -- a man who brought pride and acclaim to his nation at a time when the country's image was in need of repair. It says a great deal about Ayrton Senna that 17 years after his death, Senna, a feature-length documentary about him, has not only received an international theatrical release but become a box-office success in Europe and the U.K. While that's surely a product of the man and his formidable legacy, director Asif Kapadia has also fashioned a compelling tribute that pays homage to Senna the racer as well as the man off the track. Senna begins where the man got his start on the track, racing go-karts as a teenager, and the youngster was good enough at it to compete on an international level before he moved on to full-size cars. Ayrton Senna was raised in a nurturing middle-class household where his parents urged him to make the most of his talent, but it's clear he was gifted enough that he only needed their help for so long. Several times in the film, Senna speaks wistfully of his days racing go-karts, describing it as "pure racing" with no money, egos, or internal politics getting in the way. Senna features plenty of footage of his great moments on the track (including several dazzling sequences in which a camera was mounted inside his car, offering a first-person glimpse of the demanding terrain of a Grand Prix course), and the movie leaves little room to question his world-class skills. However, the film also deals with the many external controversies of Senna's career -- his combative relationship with sometime teammate and sometime rival Alain Prost, his skirmishes with Jean-Marie Balestre (the former president of Formula One's international governing body, Fédération Internationale de Sport Automobile, who displayed a Gallic partiality to Prost in a dispute over the 1989 world championship), the realities of dealing with sponsors and racing teams, and his battles to make the sport safer. Director Kapadia built Senna entirely from existing footage -- while several new interviews were conducted with the racer's friends, siblings, and colleagues, they're only heard in voice-over, and instead Kapadia keeps the visual focus squarely on Senna throughout. Early on, the film suffers from the fact that Senna initially seemed to be a great driver without much of a personality -- he was a nice kid who really knew how to drive and that's about it -- but as his greater success puts unexpected obstacles in his path, we learn more of the man inside the fire-proof suit. Senna tells the story of a fellow who wasn't arrogant but justifiably confident in his abilities, one who didn't need to be prodded to stand up for himself, and saw racing as a philosophical pursuit as much as a competition. The film also touches on Senna's strong but pragmatic Catholicism without digging too deep for details, offers an admiring look at his close relationship with his family and his charitable activities, and nods briefly to his reputation as a ladies' man without making much of it (Senna was romantically involved with several well-known models and Brazilian television stars, no great surprise for a wealthy and internationally famous sports figure with the good looks of a movie star). As Ayrton Senna's life and career becomes more complex, so does he, and he becomes a more interesting figure to watch, while the racing footage (edited to keep the material exciting even if you know who is going to win) is consistently impressive throughout. Senna is more of a tribute than a biography, and Kapadia is unwavering in his devotion to the driver, but the film also makes the case that people admired him for good reasons, and while this movie will appeal most to race fans, it's also a well-told tale of a man who clearly made the most of his 34 years on this Earth.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Arc Entertainment

Special Features

Interviews; Senna family; Home videos; Filmmaker commentary featuring director Asif Kapadia, writer Manish Pandey and producer James Gay-Rees

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ayrton Senna Actor
Reginaldo Leme Participant
Richard Williams Participant
John Bisignano Participant
Pierre van Vliet Participant
Alain Prost Participant
Ron Dennis Participant
Frank Williams Participant
Neyde Senna Participant
Viviane Senna Participant
Sid Watkins Participant

Technical Credits
Asif Kapadia Director
Tim Bevan Producer
Liza Chasin Executive Producer
Eric Fellner Producer
James Gay-Rees Producer
Stephen Griffiths Sound/Sound Designer
Debra Hayward Executive Producer
Chris King Editor
Kevin Macdonald Executive Producer
Chris Nixon Editor
Manish Pandey Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Antonio Pinto Score Composer
Gregers Sall Editor
Andy Shelley Sound/Sound Designer


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Senna 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Toast More than 1 year ago
I have been a Formula 1 fan ever since I first started watching F1 on TV with my German born mother back in the 1970's. Senna was a true champion during a time in Formula 1 that included some of the finest race drivers the world has ever seen, including the likes of Prost, Mansell and Lauda. The Senna-Prost rivalry was and is regarded as one of the most intense rivalry in sports history. Senna's presence over Formula 1 was dominant, and his death at Imola in 1994 shook Formula 1 like no other event. His memory is still alive for those of us who watched in awe his amazing racing. But what jumps out and grabs you in this extremely well done film is his forceful personality, intellect, spirit and faith in God. His legacy is intact and this film is a superb effort to honor and remember a truly gifted individual who excelled in a very difficult and hazardous sport. He left us too soon, but this captures the memories and for that his fans are grateful. Senna WINS!!!
Debora83 More than 1 year ago
I always watched Formula 1 with my family when I was a child, and one of the reasons was Ayrton Senna. However, he was not just a great race driver - he was charismatic, brave, honest and a great human being. At that time, when I was 10 years old, I did not understand why so many people loved him so much - including myself and my family. Watching this movie made me understand why Ayrton Senna, a Formula 1 race driver - not the most popular sport in Brazil - is so famous around the world and was considered a hero in my country. I got tense, happy, sad, completely involved by this movie! It is spectacular how the director put all the moments of Ayrton Senna's life together! I loved it, and I recommend this movie for everybody, not just people that like Formula 1.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheresaIN More than 1 year ago
Having lived in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, from 1977 to 1999, I was extremely priviledged to witness first hand the phenomenon that was Ayrton Senna. My interest in Formula I started back in the early 1960's when living in London. I followed the racing career of the likes of Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart either at Brands Hatch or Silverstone. Arriving in Brazil my attention was drawn to Brazilian racing with Emerson Fittipaldi and I started attending races at Sao Paulo's Interlagos race track. The first time I saw Ayrton Senna I knew I was witnessing a true racing stand out. So young but yet so mature in his driving skills, he was truly something to be amazed by. As his career developed, I became equally proud as any Brazilian did as his skill and his personal conduct. This documentary is a true portrayal of the person that he was and the extraordinary racing driver that he was ... for me, no-one ever came close to his talent. As the closing few minutes of the film portrayed, Ayrton was the hero of literally 200,000,000 Brazilians who faced all forms of hardships. But count in that group even the rich Brazilians and a British subject like myself. My grief for the loss of this man is still very deep.