Senna Movie; Not Good, But Great.

It is with great joy and sorrow that I bring you this review of Senna. After a year of build up and guarded, slow releases around the world Senna arrived in a town 50 miles from home and I duly took the trip to be the first of my motor-racing fanatical family to watch it.

The year of build up and rave reviews had be totally drawn in, as the miles passed by i got more and more excited. I began to put my foot harder to the fllor, extracting all the power from my Corsa’s little 1.4 engine hoping to get to the cinema even a few minutes quicker and be the first in line for a prime seat.

Rarely do I go to the cinema, but this was worth the ticket price, and the popcorn, and the giant gulp. I got my seat pretty quickly, and as the lights went down, and they began with the ‘pure driving pure racing’ quote I’d had my moneys’ worth already and with a dry throat sat back to enjoy.

Unfortunately the film skips over a lot of the detail of Senna’s life that I was hoping to learn, they mention fleetingly the charities he donated to before setting up his own foundation. The backdrop of chaotic and desperate Brazil is not played upon as much as it could’ve to produce a better contrast to his achievements globally.

As a piece of documentary making, the film is exquisite. With no narrator and carefully selected quotes from Senna, he tells his own story from beyond the grave, with only a little help from his friends.

Luckily the film saves this with some great onboard footage and clips from archives never seen, at a guess 70% of this film cannot be found online, I know because I’ve tried.

Racing fans will love the epic. The retelling of the tale, the greatest duel in history, Senna/Prost of 88-91 and if they like history and nostalgia this film will be at the top of many a Christmas list, until the last twenty minutes anyway.

Personally being a young age of 22, I can only find one comparison to the last twenty minutes of the film. Imagine following a 9/11 bomber through a training camp, building up a family man of strong religious beliefs and then watching his final moments into the side of a tower. The worlds blackest day, no one would want to see that surely, even his own family who thought he was righteous. Why then would F1 fans want to watch their blackest weekend played out in such a slow torturous pace?

As a fan I took no pleasure in this last part of the story, I know what happens. There were also shots of some huge crashes of the era, seeing Ratzenberger die was gobsmacking, or Martin Donnelly bent triple after his 1990 smash. These are images I would’ve hated viewing at the time, far removed from the makings of a ‘amazing film’.

This also seemed to cause disillusion upon the non-racing fans present [who were easy to spot given they had no sign of a logo on either there baseball cap or shirt]. Many began to visibly wonder why is F1 being celebrated in a film that shows its favourite son, among others, dying? And one, although admittedly young viewer questioning his father, “Why did they kill him off? He was cool.”

So lets not get this honest reviewer wrong, it does show the true nature of racing; dangerous and fast. It shows 1988-91 some of the best years of F1 ever, held both of these elements equally. But I like my history through rose tinted glass, that’s why I’m a fan and not Chairman of the FIA.

I feel I’m being harsh. I’ve read interviews stating that the first cut of this film was 5 hours long. Well I have some advice, throw this commercialised 1 ½ hour footnote at the cinema’s, but when you bring out the DVD, give me and the rest of the world those 5 hours, and a purer look at Senna.

So let’s not finish on a negative, this after all is a great film, showing truly that Ayrton; who may be one of the greatest drivers ever, was easily the greatest man to ever step on a Formula One grid.
I tweeted immediately afterwards saying “Ayrton Senna, Not quite god-like, but an Angel of the racetrack. Died doing what he did best, his destiny.”

My moment of the film comes at the very last. A golden nugget from a press conference. Fullerton,. The Question ‘Who has been your greatest rival, past or present?” You can bet your life’s savings this interview was setting up a follow on question about Alain Prost. Ayrton pauses, as I paraphrase from memory. “I would have to go back to the 70’s” “When I first came to Europe, Go Karting against Teryy Fullerton.” I could sense the atmosphere change there, not only in the cinema, but in the press conference, Ayrton was giving a real answer no one had expected. “No politics, no money, it was Pure Driving, Pure Racing.”

God Bless you Ayrton Senna, Angel of the Racetrack.

F1 may be the sport of glamour, playboys, millionaires and Champions but if you’ll excuse I’m going Karting, the sport of legends.

Senna & Barcelona; Cheat to Win

If I’m honest, I’m just not a big football fan anymore. Ever since Ronaldo started diving for penalties I’ve just lost interest.
So, when the family headed out to the pub to watch Barcelona and Man U in the grand champions league finale, I reluctantly went along.

What I saw epitomised everything that is wrong with football. Barcelona was easily the better team on the night. Their passing was sublime, and the goals were downright fantastic. ManU were a shadow of their past glory, and being from the better side of the Pennines I enjoyed this fact.

Being from Britain however, I’m distraught at the way the game went in the latter stages. As ManU began to close players down and harass for possession the great Barcelona’s men of skill began collapsing to floor with acting and screaming that wouldn’t be out of place on stage, or a comedy performance.

I’m told this is ‘playing for time’ breaking up the flow of an oppositions attack, frustrating them into making heavier challenges and eventually being cautioned or sent off. “It’s ok, they all do it” my cousin assures me.

Barcelona of 2011 is for me, the Senna of Football.

Senna was great yes. The best? Probably. But ruthless and cutthroat? Definitely. When Senna rammed Prost off the track in 1990 he inspired generations who idolised him to do the same. Michael Schumacher’s famous ‘chops’ blocking any over taking move were the first inspired result of Senna’s classic move. And the now similarly accepted ‘one move to defend’ can be source back to Senna’s battles with faster rivals.

Senna like Barcelona could never accept losing, win at all cost, even if you have to cheat to get there. What kind of message are we sending to the next generation?

Since 2006 I’ve been watching the lower leagues of Football. I have seen men punched in the face, I have seen players rugby tackled as they approached the opposition’s goal, and I have seen these instances go unnoticed from short sighted or bias referees.

This has rarely resulted in arm waving or the victimised player rolling around on the floor exclaiming his leg is badly bruised and it must be amputated at once to spare any pain. More often than not the player would jump back up and sprint at full pace to chase the possession back down.

Even the lower Formulae of racing have this determination. Formula Renault is a fantastic series to watch. Unfortunately its likewise dominated by Red Bull, however the young Toro’s need not ram there opposition out of the way, they merely continue to lap faster, apply pressure and watch the youthful opposition crack and make a mistake or take a chance, go for a big overtake and risk finishing in the gravel trap.

Senna Movie is due out this week. And I look forward to it. Senna is one of the greatest, but because of his ‘dark side’ he’ll never be THE greatest. As a human being, Senna straddled the line of insanity and godlike greatness, but that’s another review.

Senna cheated, and when you consider the crime rates in Brazil, he’s a product of his upbringing. Barcelona, full of pick pockets, cheating their way through life. So to the next millionaire, who wants to start a team, find somewhere full of honest people to base them, whatever the sport, maybe Kenya?