By Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Aryton Senna de Silva (1960 – 1994) was a Formula One racing
champion from Brazil. He gave hope to the people of Brazil during hard times,
and he gave back through philanthropic work, especially for the education of
Brazil’s millions of poor children.
This documentary follows Senna’s life chronologically. He
fell in love with racing as a child and won go-cart races as a teen. He worked
his way up to Formula One, which refers to the rules that all participants must
adhere. The incredibly high speed races take place on race tracks and through
narrow city streets.
Senna was a devout Catholic and talked about racing as a
spiritual, almost mystical experience. Not all the other racers appreciated
this, but he was no fool. One of his most famous sayings was, "Just because I believe
in God, just because I have faith in God, it doesn't mean that I'm immune. It
doesn't mean that I'm immortal" (1989).
has won major awards at the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film
Festival and Adelaide Film Festival.
the publicist invited me to the screening and said it was about Formula One
racing, I was glad she could not see the blank look on my face. But then she
said that Senna, the subject of the film, was a Catholic and the film has a
surprising spiritual dimension. I was intrigued, so I went to the screening –
and cried at the end.
film director Asif Kapadia said that “Senna was complex and no angel. But he
achieved so much in such a short time, confronting corruption within the racing
culture and emerging with integrity.”
Asif said, was “otherworldly, intelligent, eloquent, an artist. He raced to
become closer to God.”
This is an inspiring story about a sport, a
sportsman, about competition, about rivalries and ambition. But I think you
might agree that Senna didn’t just go into a “zone” when he was racing, he went
where Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) described as the
imagination, a place to “realize faith”. In one of Newman’s “University
Sermons” he describes so well, I think, what Senna’s experience might have been
like when he describes the mountain climber
who “… makes progress on a steep cliff, who by quick eye, prompt hand,
and firm foot, ascends he knows not himself; by personal endowments and by
practice, rather than by rule, leaving no track behind him, and unable to teach
another. And such mainly is the way in which all men, gifted or not gifted,
commonly reason, - not by rule, but by an inward faculty.”
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