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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Senna': A Viscerally Engaging Documentation of the Life and Death of Racing Legend Ayrton Senna

Movie poster for the 2010 documentary Senna

Senna (2010) is a visceral and absorbing British-French documentary that details the abbreviated life of Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. Killed in a horrific crash at just 34 years of ago, Senna was a three-time champion of the Formula One World Drivers' Championship—a triumvirate of achievements that cemented his status as one of the greatest racing drivers in history.

Beginning in 1984, the film chronicles Senna's association with the British motor racing team McLaren and his fierce rivalry with teammate Alain Prost—an opposition that plays out over 6 full years and climaxes dramatically in the 1989 and 1990 world championships. Simultaneously, the narrative assiduously details the advances in technology and safety that characterized the time period in motor racing, with Senna playing an outspoken role in the advancement of driver protection—a devastating irony after his grievous death at the San Marino Grand Prix in May of 1994.

Directed by British filmmaker Asif Kapadia (The Warrior, Amy), Senna is a stunningly assured feature delivered with conscientious use of archival footage and first-hand interviews. Senna's story is one of both exceptional accomplishment and unimaginable tragedy, and Kapadia performs quite a feat in crafting such a deeply absorbing depiction of an extraordinary life cut all-too-short. Indeed Kapadia's prowess as a storyteller transcends the sport of auto racing altogether—and helps to convey a universally appealing account of unfettered greatness.


Watch the trailer:


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