Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Senna movie to be screened in IMAX
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Feb 2012   |  11:38 am GMT  |  39 comments

Fresh from winning the Evening Standard Film Award for the Best Documentary Film, the Senna movie is now odds on favourite to win a prestigious BAFTA award at the ceremony this Sunday 12 February at the Royal Opera House in London.

And the distributors, Universal Pictures, have announced that there will be a very special set of screenings of the film on a giant IMAX screen at the British Film Institute in London.

For those not familiar with IMAX, the key is not just the quality of the image but its enormous size. According to Wikipedia, “A standard IMAX screen is 22 × 16.1 m (72 × 52.8 ft), but can be larger.

“The increased resolution allows the audience to be much closer to the screen; typically all rows are within one screen height; conventional theatre seating runs 8 to 12 screen heights. Also, the rows of seats are set at a steep angle (up to 30° in some domed theatres) so that the audience is facing the screen directly.”

It should be an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to see it.

The dates for the BFI screening are as follows:

Tuesday 28 February (21:15)
Thursday 1 March (21:15)
Sunday 4 March (18:30)

Standard seats are £9 for adults and £5-75 for children. You can book tickets by clicking on this link BOOK BFI IMAX TICKETS

The BFI is located on the south side of Waterloo Bridge, London SE1.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

thanks for letting me know about the IMAX screening James. Got my tickets yesterday and woke up this morning to hear it won a BAFTA. Awesome. Can’t wait to see the film again.

I’ve not bought the DVD, from what I’m reading I suspect I probably should? Please could someone explain disc 1 and disc 2 content.


I’m just glad this film was made and it did Senna justice. Thanks to the family as well.

It fully deserved its BAFTAs

I wish it did show a bit more of his years at Lotus though.


And it wins the BAFTA! Excellent news.


My favourite scene in the Senna film wasn’t the politics or the racing – fantastic though that was. It was an shot from 1985, Senna’s first year with Lotus. In the pit lane we see Prost’s McLaren and Tamby’s Renault being pulled back by mechanics to reveal Senna’s JPS Lotus (the best looking F1 car ever?). The black and gold colour scheme and the yellow helmet, all pent up potential,ready to deliver. Great!



The original footage was not filmed by an IMAX camera, so I won’t expect too much.

Check this out:



Because of the limited quailty of the source material, I can’t imagine the film will benefit greatly from an IMAX screening. Even so, anything that gets people going to see such a fantastic piece of cinema is a good thing.


What exactly is the point? The archive footage is all cropped such that it’s not even SD TV rez. At IMAX levels, each pixel will be a metre square!


That’s right.



the archive footage is not digital. SD or HD or pixels don’t enter into it until after the digitization process the filmcrew did themselves (which will have resulted in a 2k resolution file, if not 4k).

Worst case scenario is that the original footage is on VHS but even that can be cleaned and digitized, though it will never be as good as proper film. Even still, the problems that might occur with VHS’ poor image quality will have nothing to do with SD or large pixels.


You seem to know your stuff so I ask you, can it somehow be digitally remastered? I once saw a IMAX 3d film about NASCAR (and I hate NASCAR, but I have to say I really enjoyed the film and learned quite a few things about NASCAR. Came out hating NASCAR slightly less!


digital remastering (should really be called digital sub master)only works when the initial (usually) analogue recording is of a high quality, you can then produce a high quality digital copy (i.e. CD) instead of a low quality analogue one (i.e. 2 track cassette). Digital remastering brings out quality that already exists on the original recording, that didn’t make it to the first release. As a thought, analogue SDTV is generally considered to have an effective resolution of ~640*480 ish. IMAX depending on format would be around 10000-18000 * 7000. There are processes and techniques for uprezing content for ‘film out’, but it can only go so far, if the initial quality isn’t there, well good luck. (I haven’t seen the footage in question.)


Unfortunately this movie is very biased. And misinterprets truth. I was disappointed because when making a documentary the author has a lot of responsibility as he is shaping the past at some extent. The part with pole position in 1990 is also misinterpreted as if it was moved on the other side when it was not actually, it was always on that side. Imagine Vettel takes pole and is not happy with the side of the track. Charlie refuses to change it. Vettel loses place to hamilton at the start and crashes at him… Also the footage from Hockenheim is used and is sold to us like Suzuka 90 footage when senna approaches Marshals in the car and tells about the pole location. They have even blured the writing on Marshals’ car probably saying “German Grand Prix”


you should pay attention: Senna asked BEFORE qualifying if pole COULD be moved to the other side, the stewards said yes, as pole should be a reward and get the best grid position. Senna got pole, and AFTEr qualifying Balestre gave the orders to reverse it again and put pole on the dirty side…


Does anyone know if the DVD is available for North Americain format? Every site I have found for Senna specifies Region 2 only, which essentailly is Europe, Middle East, & Japan.


This is just a publicity stunt, the majority of the footage comes from TV cameras from the 1980s and early 90s meaning the picture quality was sub DVD to begin with, let alone blu-ray or IMAX.

It’s the same for most feature films shown on IMAX cinemas – unless they were filmed on IMAX cameras you are just watching a sub IMAX quality film on an IMAX screen. While you can get away with it on a standard feature film – because you are starting off with a reasonable high quality source material to begin with, upscaling TV footage from the 1980s to IMAX is crazy. It’s the equivalent of upscaling a thumbnail of a photograph and printing it out poster size.


Well is great to know its going to be in IMAX but it sort of seems like a waste imagine a 20 year old broadcast or 8, 16 mm film blown up to 70 mm it will be just a blur hehe, but I would go anyway no question about it


O good grief is Lewis modelling cod pieces now?


Unless the movie was recorded with IMAX projection in mind, it will actually appear distorted on an IMAX screen. Case in point, I saw the last Star Trek movie on an IMAX screen thinking it would give a different level of experience. Ended up leaving half way through it as I could not put up with things curving off at the ends of the screen. Just my 2 cents…hopefully, the viewing is what its being made out to be.


One would feel giddy after a while from the blurring effect. It can be very uncomfortable.


Before the flaming starts…I viewed it at on the screen at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Canada: http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/imax/default.asp

Not one of the IMAX screens in your nearby cinemas. But by the way the theatre has been described, it sounds like it would be a similar set up to the Science Centre’s ‘OMNIMAX’.


A good film but of an incredible athlete but a bizarrely flawed character which has blotted his copybook forever.

IMAX – another wonderful Canadian invention !


I thought the film was more a character assassination of Prost than a true biopic of Senna.

For example, where were the moments of ruthlessness, like crashing into the pitwall to get the fastest line in qualifying through the old layout of Magny Cours?

Prost may have been a brilliant F1 politician, but Senna was no angel either. The film was too much ‘Senna, the poor underdog’ than a more balanced picture of the man.


The images of F1’s glory days were pretty nice and should be a hoot to watch on an IMAX screen but other than that I don’t think the film was anything special.

I thought the short piece Top Gear did on Ayrton was a lot more honest and complete as a portrait of the man than “Senna”. I felt the documentary was so one-sided and sanitized that it gave me no real idea who he was and what made him so great other than his talent. In contrast, the BBC’s film about Graham Hill from two years or so ago, managed to give a lot more insight into the mind of a great racing driver and of the allure and danger of the sport.

I don’t doubt that Ayrton Senna is an interesting subject for a real character study and formula one in the eighties and early nineties is the most dramatic backdrop for any narrative I can think of, but they made fanmail instead.

I don’t know what other documentaries are nominated for the BAFTA’s but I don’t think Senna deserves any award over gems like “Into the Abyss” or “the Interrupters”. And I don’t say that because of its bias but because the filmmakers didn’t tell us anything interesting despite the artistic license they afforded themselves.


I saw the film at Cambridge Arts Cinema with a Q&A from its makers afterwards.

This was brought up, they accepted there might be some bias, but said Ayrton is the only person in the film that can’t complain about his portyrayal in it.

… That wasn’t strictly true, Jean-Marie Balestre would struggle too, I’d think.

Anyway, I see it as Ayrton’s story from his own perceptive.

Re Imax, I’m sure it’ll be great experience, but do they have to digitally dabble with the print? It looked fairly grainy most of the way through from 100′ when I saw it.


Any word on IMAX screenings outside of the UK??


I really wish they would release the WHOLE footage…..7hours for sad cases like me…. 🙂

Hope it scoops the awards- even people I know don’t have a clue about F1 were thriled and moved by the film.


I didn’t think the film was up to much. Couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

Then my wife put disc one in.


I sat thru half an hour of Disk 2 and started thinking the same, whats all the fuss, this is OK, but nothing special.

Disk one on the other hand………………Dohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


I didn’t think much of it either, until I read James’s reports on it and all the feedback from the first screenings. Then there was no question of going or not to see the movie.

For someone like me, who lived in a country under a comunist leader and didn’t had access to F1 while Ayrton was racing, I didnt know much about him. This movie was an eye opener into what a star and great driver he was.

I was glad I went to see it.


Absolutely see where you’re coming from Richard.

I am not old enough to remember seeing Senna race, though I have seen much footage and am aware of his exceptional talent. So, for me, this film was one I didn’t rush to see, but got around to it when it aired on Sky Box Office.

I was absolutely blown away by it, went and bought it straight away on blu-ray and have watched it a number of times since. My wife, who thinks F1 is boring and ‘cars going round in circles for 90 minutes’ also loved the film.

As many posters have already commented, I’d love it to come to Bradford so us Northerners can share in the experience. I have seen other Imax screenings and it’s a wonderful experience.

Whatever awards the film wins are fully deserved, it’s brilliant.


I hope that Senna:IMAX goes worldwide not just in UK.


will it be screened at bradford too??


if it goes well at BFI – Who knows?


No joking Senna would have been proud & grateful of what Ja on F1 did for the success of this movie.

Can’t wait to see the Senna movie scoop the awards at the BAFTAS & I will be looking out for the dry eyes in the room.

Actually thinking back on this documentary, it was a stroke of (Senna) genius that the film makers used actual Senna footage & used his actual voice for the narration.

This is how Biopics should be done & not with the use of actors 99% of whom don’t even look like their characters


Wish the film makers would also realise for the hard core F1 fans, the 7 hours worth of footage they had to edit to make this master piece.


On the Blue ray disc, you’ll find the director’s cut, which is much longer than the theater version. Mostly though, it’s just talking head interviews, which you hear as voice overs in the theater version. Many of which consist of Alain Prost trying to justify himself. He really is cast as the bad guy in the film, isn’t he?


Surely Balestre is the bad guy. Prost is Senna’s rival but the reconciliation at the end is clear and he’s at funeral and becomes a Trustee of the Senna Institute


is there any possibility of a showing at the bradford imax for us poor provincial northerners?

Top Tags