I saw this documentary on Senna’s Formula One career a few weeks ago. Its undoubtedly informative and moving and the use of archive footage is revealing. The sympathy shown to Senna by the film makers is striking and their love for F1 is obvious. For me maybe too clear. While I enjoyed it, unless you are an F1 nerd, there seems to be a gap in the story. Senna was a huge figure in F1 but meant so much more to Brazil at the time.
Brazil had only just emerged from dictatorship and despite being endlessly touted as the ‘next big economy’, it was still struggling with inflation, debt, a laborious economy and corruption. Even the traditional heroes, the Brazilian football team hadn’t won the World Cup for the last 24 years of Senna’s life. But despite being a rich, white boy, Brazilians embraced Senna for showing themselves to the world as winners. They can be very competitive and emotional people in general. Yet this embrace was only highlighted when Senna first won the Championship and at his funeral. A slight more detailed sociological angle could have really brought home what representing Brazil so clearly means to Brazilians and meant to Senna himself.