Thursday, June 9, 2011

Senna (2010)

A bonus review today. A super little documentary on the late great Ayrton Senna is due to begin it's release in Europe, North America and Australia beginning tomorrow with a release in cinemas in England tomorrow. To that end I'm running a review of the film in the hope that I can get some of you to see this in a cinema instead of on DVD. Trust me this is a theater film.

The racing life of Ayrton Senna is revealed via archival footage and a few new interviews with the people who knew him. Starting with Senna’s interest in racing when he was a boy the film takes him all the way to his death in a freak accident in 1994.

Senna lived to race and raced to live. It’s a cliched sort of statement, but it’s really true. Where his long time rival Alain Prost quit driving for a season when he didn’t like the car he was given to drive, Senna fought with a similiar car which he also hated and still managed to win.

When racing started to turn dangerous (there were several spectacular crashes that sent some people to the hospital and killed others), a friend of Senna’s suggested that they both quit and go fishing. Senna said no, he had to race. It was a statement that would ultimately end in tragedy.

Senna was, and still is, always listed one of the greatest that ever raced. He was a man who never learned how to stop racing, even if it brought him into contact with those around him. There is an interview of Senna by Jackie Stewart in the film where Stewart asks him why is it that he had collided with so many people? Senna said it was the nature of the sport, but Stewart pointed out that Senna had as many incidents in four years as all of the world champions had had in the previous (number of) decades. Senna again said it was the sport. His attitude was not cavalier or even the words of a maniac, but the words of a man who saw racing as battle and would do everything in his power to win. He didn’t try to crash, it was just that two cars can’t be in the same space at the same time.

The fact that people crash, and get hurt, and die is a notion that hangs over the film. Even before the ultimate end of the film’s subject, this film is full of destruction and death. Motor sports are very dangerous, especially when it comes to open wheeled racing. It’s a fact that this film never lets you forget.

I’m a long time Formula 1 fan. I’ve been following the sport in fits and starts ever since my Uncle Frank got me hooked on it back when I was teenager. It was this love that made me really want to see this film, which I track down as an import DVD. I liked this film a great deal. I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of the film since I have memories of watching Senna Race. I know that people who are racing fans have loved the film so the expectation was high.

When the film started I was kind of at odds with the film. I kind of thought the film was a puff piece, but as the film went on and the tension of the races took over I fell into it. It didn’t hurt that the film is full of great racing footage and amusing tid bits. Truth be told this is a film that really should be seen on a big screen where the racing footage will have its fullest effect, especially the in car stuff. I saw the film on an import Japanese DVD and I know had I seen this on the big screen I would have been through the roof about it.

As I said this film is starting its major march in theaters across the world and you need to go out and see this in a theater. It's getting a preview screening in about a week in Brooklyn (Father's Day) and I'm going to do my damnest to go see it again the way it should be.

Go see this. You don't need to be a race fan, just a fan of great movies.

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