10 Incredible Documentaries You've Probably Never Seen
9. Senna (2010)
The documentary is a bastion of on-camera interviews and, ever since The Thin Blue Line, reenactments. It is a rarity that a film does not utilize the camera to capture new footage. Relying on archival footage is an editing nightmare. Pouring over hours of film just to string together a feature length documentary is a fools errand that surely will only result in a highlight reel at best and scattered mess at worst. But then there is Senna. Formula One racing is not NASCAR. While swigging beer and watching drivers make continuous left turns for hours on end (seriouslyhours), NASCAR is a crash waiting game. Formula One has winding courses at breakneck speeds and is exciting. In 1984, Ayrton Senna emerged into the world of Formula One. A 24-year-old Brazilian go-kart driver, Senna took the scene by storm. In less than four years he took home his first World Championship and became a national hero. The film chronicles Sennas rise to fame and his struggles with rival driver Alain Prost and the Formula One organization. I cannot stress enough how impressive the structure of the film is. There are no new interviews or even a running commentary. The film is composed entirely of race footage, home videos and glimpses behind the Formula One curtain. However, it always feels like a feature. The documentary is filled with drama and tension. It doesnt matter if you like Formula One racing or even sports in general, you will find yourself rooting for Senna and nervously watching races that have long since ended. Perhaps it is the lack of commentary that makes the film often feel like a narrative feature rather than a documentary. Senna is completely engrossing and will have you twisting and turning on the edge of your seat.
Derek was the only engineer at Northeastern University taking a class on German film and turning a sociology assignment into an examination of Scorsese’s work. He blatantly abuses his Netflix account, but can never seem to get his Instant Queue below 200. Now working for the government, he fights the stigma that being good at math means you are not any no good at writing. I good write, very much. Follow Derek on Twitter @DerekDeskins.