Senna, the movie, recently started screening in the UK. By director Asif Kapadia, it’s a compelling and moving story of the life of a racing driver considered by many to be the greatest in history. Composed entirely of archival footage – of which there’s plenty, thanks to Senna’s fame – the main thread of the story is of course already known, and ends in the fateful weekend at Imola in 1994. It’s a one-sided story, with fans of Alain Prost likely to be dismayed by his portrayal as a political power-monger rather than a talented driver, but then every story is one-sided, and there’s ample opportunity for a sequel – Prost! – to be developed. I’m afraid I can’t imagine the cinema to be as full as it was last night, nor for nearly every viewer to remain, silently, until the very last credits rolled.
For me, the film is not about Formula One. It is about the distinction between skill and success, the difference between finishing 5th because the technicalities mean you can be champion, or giving everything regardless even when you don’t need to, when the risks are higher and potential losses greater. It’s about being, and doing. When you don’t take risks, you become less you and more we – more of an acceptable median, less of an outlier, a peak, sometimes a trough. It’s entirely up to you what you want to be, but everyone remembers a shaky line.
(this was originally drafted on 11 June, and then I drifted into holiday mode and forgot to do…)