Finally after all of these years, the epic and historic story of the late great Jackie Robinson comes to the big screen. Backed and Warner Bros. and the endorsement of Jackie’s widow Mrs. Rachel Robinson, 42 is set to hit theaters nationwide on April 12 and AllHipHop.com was invited to an early screening.
After World War II, Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey (played by the iconic Harrison Ford) began the search for the right African American athlete from the Negro Baseball Leagues to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball at the time. Rickey settled on the multi-sport talented (Tennis, Football, Track and Baseball) Robinson. Knowing full well of the abuse and tribulations that Jackie would have to endure by racist America, Rickey instructs his young rising star not to fall in to the traps that his many detractors would lay before him. Enduring death threats, much name calling, the dislike of fellow teammates and hate mail, Jackie Robinson was able to fight through these difficulties and do his fighting on the field, which led to the eventual destruction of the color barrier in all of sports and was precursor to the civil rights movement that would come later in the nation.
Before viewing the movie I was a bit concerned about a major company handling such an important factor in American history. Would they make the story too safe? Would they display and show the truth about the abhorrent behavior of racist America at the time? The answer is that Warner allowed the movie to show the ugly and disgusting truths at the time. There is a scene in which Robinson is being so berated and degraded by the Philadelphia Phillies manager that’s very difficult to watch due to the anger that will rise up within you as you witness the abuse laid upon him. Chadwick Boseman does a fine job in playing the often reserved Robinson and shines when it comes time to show how the heavy toll of enduring all of the abuse. As much as 42 is about Jackie Robinson, it’s also about the bravery of Branch Rickey who also becomes a father-type figure for the athlete as he deals with being the first African American in the Major Leagues. Harrison Ford adds the right amount of fiery behavior with compassion as the legendary General Manager, who makes it no secret that although he’s out to do the right thing, he’s also motivated to win by taking advantage of Robinson’s baseball skills. If there is a 3rd star to the movie, it’s the lovely Nicole Beharie as Mrs. Rachel Robinson, who serves as her husband’s strength and main supporter. 42 will inspire, delight, make you feel anger, and most of all help you to understand the difficulties that those before us had to endure while trailblazing new paths for minorities in the future. A must see film!