"Racing, competing, it's in my blood. It's part of me, it's part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else."
Ayrton Senna da Silva (1960 - 1994)
If you're a true fan of Formula One, you cannot in any way dispute the true legendary talent of one Ayrton Senna da Silva, a man who was a dominant force in the fastest sport in the world, who made any race car he drove dance on the absolute limit, pushing harder than any other driver in the elite of Formula One past or present. A man who not only won three World Championships, but also has left a legacy that will be remembered by us all for decades to come, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers by both fans and racing drivers alike.
The documentary film 'Senna' tells of his career in Formula One, which began when he started racing for the uncompetitive Toleman team, and then shows him making his rise up through the ranks, through Lotus, Mclaren and Williams, until his untimely death at the San Marino Grand Prix of 1994, whilst on his way, becoming the youngest ever driver to have ever won 3 F1 titles, at the age of 31. He had a flair for facing, talent and precision, and as Ron Dennis rightly said "I knew he had what it takes."
The film also looks to the man under the helmet, showing his religious belief in God, his hatred of the political side of Formula One, his ways as a family man, as well as the much publicized spat between himself and "The Professor" Alain Prost, when they were teammates at Mclaren and when they were in opposite teams fighting for the F1 title.
The controversies regarding Senna and Prost's difficult relationship even as teammates was antagonised even further by the then FISA President, Jean-Marie Balestre, who always was headstrong and uncompromising to say the least, which was why Senna even walked out of the driver's briefing at the Japanese Grand Prix of 1990, as he said what was going on was a joke, and said he couldn't stand it.
The film also touched on how Senna was shown outside of the Formula One circus, with home videos and interviews showing his many sides. This included him being portrayed as peaceful, spiritual, private, humble, ruthless, as well as showing his extremely patriotic side as a Brazilian, especially as the Instituto Ayrton Senna continues to this day, to help the poverty stricken and underpriviledged children around Brazil, helping them excel in school and in sports, preparing them for a better future and a better Brazil.
The film takes a sombre tone when we see the events leading up to Ayrton's death and subsequent funeral, including a young Rubens Barrichello suffering a severe accident in his Jordan, before we see the aftermath of the crash causing the death of Roland Ratzenberger in his Simtek-Ford during qualifying. We even see an uncharacteristic Senna showing all his emotions and shock at what transpired, with him even considering not to race the next day.
In all respects, the team of Working Title, Universal and Disney have really put together a sharp, clear and concise documentary together, which shows a lot of footage we didn't normally see as we do now with the advances in modern methods of communication, and to the credit of the director, Asif Kapadia, whose body of work includes 'The Sheep Thief' and 'The Warrior', the documentary aspect of the film is more like a live action drama, which really brings a gritttyness and dramatic edge to the way the footage is presented.
Having initially hoped that film was to be a hit at the cinema, I was somewhat disappointed when it was released at certain outlets around the country, but I tell you now, it was worth the wait. It has been nearly 20 years since the great man was taken from us before his time, but it is also great to see that his legend lives on in the sport, as well as providing for future generations for years to come.
I urge anybody, and I mean anybody to watch this great film, as it really looks intimately into the soul and being of one man, who started out as just any normal human being, whose stardom transgressed himself beyond death, and provided us with many magical moments, irrespective of any controversies. All that is left to say after seeing this is, may you rest in peace Ayrton, we miss you. You will never be forgotten.