What's Hot
MOST READ
  • The perils of Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid Charlene Dill is one of an estimated 2,000 people who expected to face dire health issues due to lack of access to care | 4/9/2014
  • 100 things you must do in Orlando before you die A list of things everyone who lives in Orlando should do at least once | 12/4/2013
  • Fact-checking Saving Mr. Banks with Disney historian Jim Korkis Live Active Cultures | 1/8/2014
  • Milk District Quality over quantity | 3/26/2014
  • Thornton Park Urban and urbane | 3/26/2014
  • Nightlife Orlando’s reputation as a spot for fun-seekers isn’t entirely based on its International Drive allure – at least, not if you ask a native. Our bars, clubs and live music venues offer a more distinguishing palate a variety of environments for a spectrum of t | 3/26/2014
  • Savage Love I’m a 26-year-old girl, and my boyfriend is bi. I assumed he would be less jealous than the average man, but my BF is more jealous than average. He accuses me of having slept with my male friends in the past. He makes negative comments about how many people | 4/16/2014
What's Going On

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Orlando Daily Deals powered by ReferLocal

OW on Twitter
OW on Facebook
Print Email

FILM

Senna

Doc about Formula 1 legend carries the flag for its subject

Photo: , License: N/A


Senna

3 Stars
(PG-13)

On May 1, 1994, Ayrton Senna, a three-time Formula 1 World Champion seeking a fourth title, was a few seconds ahead of racer Michael Schumacher in the San Marino Grand Prix. He began the race in pole position and, despite new restrictions to the computer-controlled suspension on his Williams-Renault car that made it harder to control on turns, it looked like no one could touch him.

Starting out in the sport a decade earlier after years of “pure” kart racing in his native Brazil, Senna was something of a revelation to Formula 1. He brought fire and a passion to win, and his all-or-nothing style defied the distorted logic built around the Formula 1 World Championship points system that others, like his future teammate and enemy, the French racer Alain Prost, could navigate so well.

Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of Ayrton Senna. Nor had I heard of his rivals, Prost and Schumacher, or the old crony head of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the international governing body of motorsports, Jean-Marie Balestre. Here was a whole world, a truly rich, deep, politically involved world, one that spanned the continents, and I’d never heard of it.

But the way director Asif Kapadia sets up his new documentary Senna, it doesn’t matter. Certainly, it is helpful to know a little, but you don’t need any more knowledge of F1 racing going in than Exit Through the Gift Shop required prior acquaintance with street art. The film is a snapshot in time of an imperfect, interrupted life more than a gateway drug to racing enthusiasm.

Composed entirely of archival race and interview footage with Senna, Prost and a handful of others involved with racing at the time, Senna delivers an incomplete – and, one could argue, one-sided – look, but it’s riveting nonetheless. The racing scenes, especially those using the onboard video cameras from Senna’s car, are enthralling, and the speed at which he flies around the course is mesmerizing.

The main thrust of the film is Senna’s rivalry with his one-time McLaren-Honda teammate Prost, and the controversies that surrounded the championship in both 1989 and ’90, when both titles were eventually won in the midst of crashes and FIA politics. Did Prost cause the crash in ’89 that led to his win? Was the crash in 1990 caused by Senna as revenge?

The film certainly sides with Senna on the issue, and on pretty much every other question raised along the way. In that manner, we are slightly at the mercy of Kapadia here. But let’s face it: We’re always at the mercy of the director.

Senna died during the San Marino Grand Prix as he went into a turn on the 7th lap. I may not have heard of Senna during his life, but his trademark yellow, green and blue helmet – the colors of the Brazilian flag – blazing around the racetrack is an image that I’ll never forget.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus