Made entirely from preexisting footage, “Senna” reconstructs the surface of the life of one of the greatest of F1 racecar drivers, edited by coolly ambitious director Asif Kapadia from 15,000 hours of footage shot by Brazilian Ayrton Senna’s own personal camera crew, including on-car footage, and it’s a rush and a blast from start to finish. (Who knew, for instance, that VHS-style glitches in video footage could create tension and unease with such regularity?) The fuel-injected, adrenaline-happy score also embraces melodrama with deadly passion, every moment of every day with the potential to be a day asunder, and the sound design is an ecstatic fabric to dwarf what Senna and others have to say about man’s rise and forward propulsion. Some shots are held for seconds on end, for minutes, and the effect is both formalist and emotional. Plus: even Southern tobacco auctioneers can’t match for sonic sway the gargling shouts of Italian F1 commentators. With Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Viviane Senna, Milton da Silva, Neide Senna, Jackie Stewart, Sid Watkins, Galvão Bueno. 105m. (Ray Pride)
“Senna” is now playing at Landmark Century.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.