Senna (2010)

A documentary on a subject I’m not interested in that nonetheless manages to grab me must be doing something right, whatever it is. And I was intrigued by Senna cos it was the subject of a number of raves, particularly from people who were avowedly not fans of Formula One racing. And I am in their position: I’ve no especial interest in cars, not much more interest in sports, so sports involving cars don’t really stand a chance with me. Why yes, I am a failure as a man, why do you ask? Having said that, though, I’m not completely ignorant of at least some of the bigger names involved in the sport, so even I was at least dimly aware that Ayrton Senna’s death was a big deal when it happened… “dimly” being the admittedly operative word. Anyway, like I said, I was intrigued by the big ups the film was getting from non-F1 fans, so that drove me to finally check the thing out, and though I don’t know that I’d quite go along with some of the grander statements about its greatness, it is indeed pretty good viewing. The approach the film takes of sticking only to original visual material, rather than a mix of old footage and new talking head interviews (restricting the latter to additional voiceovers), and presenting events in historical order rather than jumping around in time is an interesting one, and the sheer range of visual material is fascinating too; in the DVD commentary, the director and producer may often be heard marvelling at some of the stuff they were able to turn up. Even if I don’t think it was quite as amazing as some, it’s still pretty impressive, and I can understand why people were angry that it was ineligible (some rule, apparently, disqualifying documentaries made completely from archive footage) for the best documentary category at the last Oscars…

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