“Is it any good?” asked the cashier as she scanned the Senna DVD that I was in the middle of purchasing. Of all the people she could pose this question to, why did it have to be me?
I couldn’t tell her the truth, which was that I thought it failed live up to the hype. Not only would that make me look like a bit of a film snob, it would also make me look incredibly daft. Who in their right mind would spend good money on something they didn’t like?
With panic beginning to sweep through my body as the situation bordered on becoming awkward, I bit my bottom lip and, rather painfully, mumbled something along the lines of it being “alright, I guess.”
And yet, oddly enough, that pretty much sums up my opinion of Senna upon a second viewing: it’s okay, but nowhere near as amazing or fantastic as most people would have you believe.
The points I raised in my original review still hold true and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record player, I still believe Senna to be an unfulfilling experience.
As a reflection of the life of Ayrton Senna it falls incredibly short. Yes, condensing anyone’s life into 100 minutes is a difficult task, but a doable one if tackled correctly. It still disappoints me that Asif Kapadia and his team had masses of footage at their disposal and chose only to focus on Senna’s F1 years, resulting in a fairly superficial understanding of his character in the process.
This perhaps wouldn’t be so bad has some of Senna’s friends, adversaries and colleagues contributed towards the documentary, but instead we have a couple of journalists – who I’ve never heard of before – portraying him to be above every single person in the sport, which was never the case.
And don’t get me started on the dreadful sound-syncing issues on some of the on-board footage…
And yet, for all its faults – for which there are many – Senna does prove to be a highly emotive picture, with the film’s moment of glory emerging as it eventually builds up to the fateful 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The way it manages to capture the drama of the race, with only images and facial expressions, is truly powerful stuff.
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that I have given this an extra star rating over its cinematic counterpart. This is thanks to the additional features that are lurking on the second disc, particularly the inclusion of almost an hour’s worth of interviews that failed to make the final cut.
As dull and tedious as Alain Prost and Ron Dennis can sometimes be to listen to, they did at least have some proximity to the man in question, and thus, are able to offer legitimate insights into Senna’s drive, determination and emotional make-up.
Anyone looking for something that captures most of the aspects from Senna’s extraordinary life would probably be better off buying Autosport’s recent publication on the Brazilian ace (reviewed here), or, if you want to delve into the whole Senna vs. Prost thing further, Malcolm Folley’s book on their rivalry is a good read. Both will nourish motor racing fans more than Senna ever will.