“42” is a biography film that tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African- American accepted into Major League Baseball.
Robinson wore the number 42 as a player, hence the title.
Directed by Brian Helgeland, this inside look into Robinson’s journey stars Chadwick Boseman in the leading role, and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The late Robinson was one of the most influential African-American athletes to ever play sports in American History.
The film provides a lot of information on sports and history during the 1940’s, and what it was truly like for an African-American who was breaking color barriers.
When watching “42,” I didn’t find myself focusing on the personalities of the characters, instead the fight for equality and the understanding of one another as human beings grabbed my attention.
In 1945, Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had an idea that he knew would be controversial, bringing an African-American to Major League Baseball, to play for his team. Later on in the film his personal motivations and feelings come up providing a nice emotional beat that helped define a character who could’ve been two dimensional.
The film starts strong putting you right in the action, as we see a younger Robinson, stealing bases and making fun of the opposing team catcher, while he was a member of the Negro Baseball League.
Though he wasn’t considered the best player in the Negro League Baseball by many, Rickey believed that Robinson had the right composure to handle the scrutiny and racial taunts that would come his way.
On April 15, 1947 for the first time in America, an African-American played Major League Baseball as a Brooklyn Dodger.
In honor of him all major teams retired the number 42 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first game, with the exception being every April 15 where players show their appreciation by wearing his number.
Despite it being simply baseball, Robinson helped plant the seeds for civil rights in America for African-Americans, before Rosa Parks, Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What’s unique about “42” is that it focuses on the man Jackie Robinson himself, and not so much on the game of Baseball.
The restrain that Robinson shows repeatedly throughout the film, from lashing out at the criticism he endured from fans, teammates and reporters, is what I really liked most about the film.
The next time I’m being harassed or put under pressure, I’ll say to myself “What would Jackie Robinson do.” 4 out of 5