Film Review: 42

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After returning home from being drafted into the Second World War, discount Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) was drafted by History to begin breaking color-barriers in America starting with its favorite past time – baseball. To many and myself Jackie Robinson is an icon but 42 revealed Jack Roosevelt Robinson the man highlighting how he responded to representing something bigger than himself – desegregation – and the impact he had in lives touched by baseball.
 
Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) set out to desegregate baseball (which had no laws against Black players) selecting a young, pregnancy talented, and spirited Jackie Robinson to lead that charge. Jackie was Rickey’s opportunity to do more about segregation than just ‘speaking up’, it was how he wanted to do more. Rickey admonished Jackie that fighting back an eye for an eye would only prove his opposition right but rather fight back with his talent to show and prove he deserved to play at baseball’s highest level.
 
Even though Jackie agreed to not fight back he didn’t immediately grasp that he was fighting for much more than himself which included sportswriter Wendell Smith (Andre Holland) who aided Jackie on his journey to the Majors. Knowing that Jackie’s success on the diamond would eventually lead to color-barriers being broken all the way to the press box, Smith helped Jackie realize the stakes at play.
 
But in contrast to Jackie accepting his role in history, his teammates had to come to terms with the opposite. To them Jackie had to be a man, teammate, and fellow ballplayer not the activist that he was herald as. Jackie’s White teammates had their own concerns about playing with a Black man who’s presence had turned the team into a spectacle citing “I just want to play ball” and the rebuttal was often “And Jackie doesn’t?”. If Jackie didn’t fit into the dynamic of the team then, well, they weren’t a team. Treating Jackie as one of their own was the only battle he couldn’t win on the field but in his teammates hearts and minds.
 
Some people set out to change the world but others are called by the world to change it. By being thrust into history, Jackie Robinson learned that sometimes courage is looking higher when all of your opposition tries to keep your sights low.
 
Steve
 
Disclaimer: I am an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own.
 

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