“I had three reactions to Asif Kapadia‘s Senna, an absorbing, somewhat affecting doc about the late Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian race-car driver and Formula One champion who was killed during a race in 1994 at the age of 34. They were (a) ‘very well-made film, stirring story,’ (b) ‘Senna’s death was very sad’ and (c) ‘shit sometimes happens when you drive at exceptionally high speeds in the pursuit of beating others to the finish line.”

“A race-car driver who dies in a pile-up is like a mountain climber who falls into a crevasse or a combat soldier who catches a bullet or a wild-animal tamer who gets clawed to death.

“I realize Senna is regarded as perhaps the finest driver who ever lived, and that he was religiously adored in Brazil and by racing fans the world over, and that his death (due to a mechanical malfunction in the race car he was driving) was tragic. He was a hard-core athlete and very competitive and technically savvy, but — let’s be frank — he was also a bit of a hot dog and a guy who banged into other race-cars a lot. He often spoke about God helping him with his driving and steering him to victory — a common enough feeling that’s analogous to musicians talking about being ‘in the groove,’ but a bit weird all the same. Plus he came from a fairly rich family and was apparently a major hound who never got married or even spoke about having kids.

“You want a really tragic sports figure? Consider the tale of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar, whose story is quite movingly told in Jeff and Michael Zimbalist‘s The Two Escobars. Now, that’s a sad story plus one that looks beyond the perimeters of the sport realm.” — from my 3.12.11 SXSW review.