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SIFF: Asif Kapadia’s “Senna”

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The 24th Singapore International Film Festival closed on the same day as the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix Night Race. This conflict might have led to the lack of petrolheads in the theatre showing the film festival’s closing film: Senna.

Singapore International Film Festival founder, Geoffrey Malone
Ayrton Senna da Silva is regarded by many as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. Asif Kapadia’s documentary managed to trace Senna’s career rise, his thoughts and beliefs, giving an overall sense of the man and his rapturous reception in Brazil and Japan. He was (ahem) driven – always seeking to improve his skills and aim higher, he was outspoken, he was well aware that racing wasn’t the only thing about life and enjoyed life outside of the circuit – fishing, water-skiing, boating…

Because so much of the documentary was constructed from contemporaneous interviews and footage (and home videos) without annoying talking head(s), the audience felt they were watching events “live” as they unfolded (like CNN coverage on fast forward) and as the pace slowed when Senna joined the Williams team from McLaren, and lingered over details about his unhappiness with the car and his reaction to the death of Ronald Ratzenberger, the dread in the air was palpable.

On that fateful day, said his sister Vivianne, he woke and opened his bible and read a text. He was still troubled by Ratzenberger’s death but felt he could not quit the sport when he hadn’t won anything for Williams. The passage said that he would receive the greatest gift of all which was God himself.

Senna’s constant talk about God was completely unexpected. It wasn’t the offensive case of Christians scrounging about for famous people whom they could stick on Jesus’ CV; rather, just as Senna’s Brazilian nationality was part of his life, so his relationship with God came up often in interviews. His attribution of his amazing victories to God, weren’t triumphalistic, but showed great humility – even though he worked hard, drove intelligently, had great courage, took opportunities when he saw them, he acknowledged that all this came from God. He was quite clear that just because he had faith and believed in God didn’t mean that he was immortal and though ruthless in overtaking, was also concerned and nervous about safety.

Too often, we hear false teachers advocating that if people just have enough faith and “claim” successes and go on overnight prayer sessions and cast out demons from their dog house, God will prosper them and defeat their enemies etc. This completely misrepresents God, since God doesn’t promise any such thing in the Bible. Rather Jesus says that in this lifetime, God blesses all in a general way (“he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45)) and promises hardship for his followers (“Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. ” (Mark 10:29-30)). This is just the sort of complexity no human seeking to win friends and influence people would make up and so which, in addition to so much other hard evidence, provides further assurance that what the Bible says about God is, beyond reasonable doubt, true.


Top Gear Tribute to Ayrton Senna

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