Review: Senna

Posted by: Shelton Kwan onNovember 24th, 2011

May 1st, 1994. I was into the 3rd race of my 2nd year of following Formula 1. That fateful morning in Canada, I watched my racing hero, the man that got me interested in the sport, crash into the wall at Tamburello and die at the San Marino grand prix, live on television. 17 years later, I’m still following Formula 1, watching nearly every race live.

Senna was a Formula 1 legend, a legend that deserves such a great film documenting his life, his career, his mark that he left with us in Formula 1 history. A few beyonders joined me at The Uptown Theatre in downtown Calgary to catch this excellent documentary on the big screen.

The film focuses primarily on his Formula 1 career, starting with the Toleman team, and his epic fight in the rain at Monaco to nearly capture a win in his rookie year in a car that’s dwarfed by the competition that year. The same car in which he still managed to podium 3 times. The same car that his teammates could only muster a best finish of 9th place. From there, the film covers a bit of his Lotus career, including his first win with the team.

With the introduction out of the way, Senna’s career at McLaren hits the spotlight, and the rivalry with Alain Prost through their years together as teammates. The 2 dominated their seasons together, with their relationship starting out friendly, to toxic by the end of the ’89 season. Senna’s 2nd and 3rd championship is covered, along with Prost’s 4th. Sadly, there was no coverage of Senna’s 1993 Donington 1st lap, which is as mythical today as it was 18 years ago. It’s interesting to see so many familiar faces, albeit younger, in the 80’s and 90’s paddock. These same guys, such as Adrian Newey, are still dominating the sport 20 years later.

The film takes a dramatic turn with Senna’s switch to the Williams team, and Prost’s subsequent Formula 1 retirement. And of course, Senna’s, as well as Ratzenberger’s fateful day at San Marino in May 1994 is somberly covered. The film concludes with how the world reacts to a loss of such immense talent, never to be seen again in Formula 1.

The beauty of this film is that you do not need to know one single thing about Formula 1 to be drawn into Senna’s life, his quest for perfection, and his views towards god. In fact, even if you are not a racing fan, you will enjoy every minute of this film. The story is presented strictly from archival footage and interviews, and within minutes, every viewer feels connected to this legendary man.

At the time of writing, The Uptown Threatre has closed down, so if you want to catch this movie in Calgary, you’ll have to wait until they re-open (and hopefully still showing the film), or wait until the North American Blu-Ray release. If you’re in the Saskatoon or Toronto area, the film is still being played locally.

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