On Sunday the 1st May 1994, the smell of roast chicken hung in the air. I was thirteen years old and, as was fairly normal in those days, the family’s dinner was slowly cooking as we gathered in front of the TV to watch the Formula One race. By the time it was cooked, nobody was very hungry.

Roland Ratzenberger had been involved in a fatal accident during qualifying the day before and the mood among the commentators and pundits was sombre. The sport had a dark cloud hanging over it. It was dangerous again. Formula One racing always had an air of danger to it but, at least in my young eyes, that danger had been limited to spectacular crashes which usually only resulted in bruises or broken bones. It had been twelve years since the last driver had been killed during a race weekend. This weekend would see two.

Ayrton Senna died from injuries sustained after a piece of suspension mechanism struck his helmet. His Williams Renault left the track and impacted with the wall just six laps into the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. He died as he had lived: taking risks, inspiring people and representing a force for change.

That weekend marked the start of my personal disinterest in the sport. I don’t think I’ve watched a complete Formula One race since then and I have little interest in it now. For me, Formula One racing died that day when its most brilliant light was extinguished.

The documentary, Senna, offers a well-constructed overview of the dramas that propelled Ayrton to international fame. It is, at times, emotional and indulgent but avoids the all-too-easy traps of hero-worship. Instead, the documentary leads the viewer towards admiration and respect for a man so obviously guided by his faith in a Christian God and love of the thrills of motor sport. It shows his desire to win and doesn’t clearly pass judgement in the big dramas of Senna’s on-track disputes.

Senna is a wonderful film for anyone who remembers what Formula One racing was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It presents a slice of the sport’s history at a time of great transition. The politics of the governing body, the decline of importance given to the driver’s voice (something which Senna himself was at the forefront of rebuilding the very weekend of his death) and the struggle between safety, excitement, science and skill that the sport struggles with to this day are all beautifully shown.

There were several options to choose from with the Zune service on Xbox 360. I could rent or buy in standard definition (480MSP – around £4 and 1770MSP – around £15), rent in HD (590MSP – around £5) and either stream or download the film. I elected to rent it in HD, although I later realised that its not a film which really benefits from the extra resolution, comprised as it is from archive footage. I also thought I’d try downloading so I could watch the following day.

The download took a long time. Usually downloads are fairly speedy for me. I’m able to grab large demos from the Xbox Live Marketplace in much less than an hour. This 7.8GB download required me to leave my 360 on overnight after starting the process mid-evening.

Luckily, I don’t have any sort of bandwidth limit to exceed on my broadband connection so my only real financial consideration is the expense of the rental (or purchase) itself. I still think that this cost is a little on the high side, especially if you intend to use the service for more than a couple of movies a month. It would be cheaper to join a postal hire service like LoveFilm (although avoid their sub-standard streaming) and watch movies that way.

The quality of the downloaded file is very good, although this is probably not the film to show it off. I love the convenience of having it on my console, ready to go when I’m settled to watch it. You have 14 days to start the movie from the moment you pay for the rental and once you start the film playing you have 48 hours to watch it before it stops being available.

source: © thesixthaxis.com