42 Reminds Us Of Jackie Robinson’s Heroic Efforts

I had waited months for 42 to come out into theaters. Being a superhero buff, movies about Spiderman, Batman, the Avengers, Iron Man etc. typically peak my interest the most but 42 drew more anticipation and excitement for me.

Having been interested in baseball history since elementary school, the story of Jackie Robinson has always been one of my favorites. It is easy to read how Robinson broke baseball’s color line when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and changed the game forever. There is no doubt that Robinson is a legend for his efforts on and off the field and having the opportunity to see a biopic film about his first season in the National League was something I wanted to see.

I understand that stories and key points in films are altered for dramatic purposes but 42 not only tells the story but puts you right in the middle of the action. Chadwick Boseman plays a very believable Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford is absolutely incredible as Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. Just in the opening scenes of the film with these two actors, you feel the emotion, the strength and the intensity both of these historical figures possessed and it sets the tone for the story.

The film chronicles Robinson’s life as he was discovered in the Negro Leagues and all the way through the 1947 season. The film covers a period of about 2-3 years and demonstrates the racial prejudice Robinson went through during that time. In several of the scenes, my girlfriend tapped me and mentioned how hard it was to believe that such prejudice and racism occurred. The scenes in which discrimination occurred clearly demonstrate the struggles Robinson and his wife (played by Nicole Heharie) went through.

One scene that demonstrates what Robinson had to endure was a series against the Philadelphia Phillies where their manager Ben Chapman (played by Alan Tudyk aka Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball) shots every racial slur, nickname and everything else at Robinson. Tudyk plays a very believable and racist Chapman. Tudyk’s portrayal proves how much hatred Robinson had to endure and as an audience member watching this, you can’t help but feel the pain Robinson’s character is going through.

One particular storyline that was well played but not drawn out as much was the relationship between Pee Wee Reese (played by Lucas Black) and Robinson. By many historical accounts, Reese never objected to Robinson being on the team and was a supporter. It is shown in the film that Reese refuses to sign a petition against Robinson joining the team and another scene in which Reese showed his support in a series in Cincinnati. In the scene, which is based off historical accounts, Reese puts his arm around Robinson and it quiets and cools down a crowd that constantly jeered Robinson. These scene is well shot and displays the support Reese provided Robinson and is one of the most touching moments of the film.

When the final credits rolled onto the screen, my girlfriend commented how 42 is an incredible film and both of us were astonished at how well you can feel the emotions of the characters in the film. The acting in it is superb and the story is told without it being over the top and makes the point in several key situations. Best off all, it proves Jackie Robinson truly is a legend for his heroic efforts.


~ by jeffrsabo on April 14, 2013.

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