Senna – a movie you should see with your son

I wanted to write about what was the best evening I have spent for a while. After work yesterday I rushed with Henry to catch a guitar shop which stayed open late. I bought him a Baby Taylor 3/4 acoustic guitar. It is a lovely instrument that brought back memories of my pre-marriage passion for playing. I was never that good, although I did manage to learn a lot of chords, my strumming was never up to much! Still I did play a bit in church. I am thrilled that Henry is so keen to learn and seems to have more natural talent than I. We then ate dinner at one of my favorite restaurants – Nandos. They have introduced “roulette chicken wings” and I seemed to get all the extra hot ones, though Henry did get caught out once! Then we found a spot to sit in the car and jam on the new guitar, and it thrilled a Dad’s heart to be able to teach his son some old tricks!

Then, we watched Senna. A more moving film I cannot remember. Senna’s personality is powerfully portrayed. You see a young man infused with a sense of purpose and destiny. He was convinced God had given him this journey. He speaks often in the footage of his relationship with God. As my son pointed out he was far from perfect, for example swearing with relief after one particularly challenging victory. But his determination to achieve the best he could with the talents he had been given is very clear in the movie, and hence inspirational. Every young man needs someone to be inspired by like that. How easy it is to drift through life. How easy to allow others to excel while you are mediocre. We also learned of Senna’s efforts to improve the life of his fellow Brazilians.

Senna’s run-in’s with the sport’s governing body are introduced by a shot of the French head of the FIA of the time being very friendly with Prost. My son, not knowing what was to follow, turned to me immediately and said “Is that right?” The film clearly portrays then how wrong it was, giving rise to the clear impression that the FIA was biased towards Prost.

One aspect of Senna’s death that I had not fully appreciated is that the FIA had that year suddenly banned all the driver aids, making all of the cars much harder to drive. When the first death of a driver in the weekend happened, you wanted to scream at the screen that they should cancel the next days race. Senna, we are told, did not want to race the next day. He even had a conversation with his friend, Sid Watkins, who told him to give up and go fishing. “I cannot” was the reply. That next morning Senna prayed, and opened his Bible asking God to speak to him. His sister recounts that the verse he turned told him that God was going to give the best gift to him he could, Himself.

The accident itself is dealt with respectfully. Its appalling impact on the sport Senna loved is felt by anyone watching this movie, even if they do not yet follow F1. There is no doubt that his death led directly to a vast improvement in safety for others. My only complaint, however, about the whole film was the statement that there has not been a fatality in F1 since. That is of course true when it comes to drivers, but bouncing wheels have caused deaths among marshalls since. The incident involving Massa’s helmet being struck was also a very close shave. I hope I never witness an F1 driver being killed at work, but safety cannot be assumed to have been solved.

I recommend watching this film. We had a great chat afterwards about sportsman-like behavior, and about achieving one’s potential. Even if you do not follow motorsport, this film will make compelling viewing that will leave you thinking deeply about it afterwards.

This morning as I write this I have a headache and am struggling to focus on the screen as a result. I am going to need to take the day off sick. Please pray for me as I have a very busy weekend with 300 leaders, a wedding, church and an opportunity to film an interview with Terry Virgo. I need to be well! I hope to see some of you tomorrow, it is not too late to book in!

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