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‘42’ hits a home run on the silver screen

April 18, 2013

 

KALEB CAUSEY
Staff Reporter

 

Actor Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson in “42,” a film about the introduction of African-American athletes in Major League Baseball. His entrance into the league changed baseball forever. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars – Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

In a society where baseball is considered one of our greatest pastimes, movies made about the sport have to impress a lot of people to be considered one of the greats.

 

“42” is based on the true story of Jackie Robinson, a baseball player who bravely made the switch from the Negro leagues into Major League Baseball. With the help of Branch Rickey, then president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson became the first player ever to break the baseball color line.

 

The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Rickey. This was Boseman’s first major role, and his performance was impressive to say the least.

 

“42” tells the story of Robinson’s rough transition into Major League Baseball in ways that are sure to upset the viewer. The terms used in this movie are offensive and extremely hard to listen to, but it puts the viewer in the shoes of Robinson, just for a second, to witness the incredible courage and strength he needed to start a movement so huge in the most popular sport in the world at the time.

 

The movie follows Robinson as he is battered, beaten and bruised during his transition. He experiences things most people in today’s society have never had to face and probably never will, thanks to people like him.

 

Boseman has a fantastic portrayal of Robinson in this movie and even favors him quite a bit. Although Boseman has some cheesy moments throughout the film, he plays the emotion and the struggle Robinson faced very well.

 

The story of Robinson as told in “42” features two unsung heroes who changed the way their profession worked.

 

The first person was a reporter named Wendell Smith, played by Andre Holland. Smith was an African-American reporter who was assigned to be Robinson’s right hand man. He drove Robinson, helped him with interviews and assisted him in his overall transition to Major League Baseball.

 

The movie features many shots of Smith sitting in the stands with a typewriter on his lap. African-American reporters were not allowed in the press box at the time. Thanks to the hard work and fantastic coverage of Robinson, Smith became the first-ever African-American reporter to be allowed into the press box thus paving the way for other African-American journalists for decades to come.

 

The second unsung hero of Robinson’s story is Rickey. He was the reason Robinson was given the opportunity to change the game, and if it weren’t for Rickey, there is no telling how much longer the sport would have been segregated. Anyone who attempted to change the game of baseball may as well have been a leper. They were cast aside like an old doll no one wanted anymore.

 

Ford was the perfect fit for Rickey, as he is able to play a stern, yet caring, president and general manager with ease. When Robinson needs a little bit of encouragement, Rickey is there to challenge him and make sure he is ready to take on the next at bat.

 

In my mind, “42” ranks in the top-five baseball movies of all time. To be considered amongst movies such as “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” and “The Natural” is a huge accomplishment for Brian Helgeland, the director of the movie, who had only directed three movies before taking on the writer/director job for “42”.

 

This movie is filled with lighthearted and comedic moments, which offset the serious, and sometimes offensive, scenes of the movie.

 

The supporting cast and the accurate representation of the game of baseball in the 1940s makes this movie even more enjoyable and truly helps the viewer feel as though they are experiencing every step Robinson took.

 

Throughout time, sports observers have come to realize that great players are those who change the way the game is played forever. Jackie Robinson is one of those players and “42” is a beautiful depiction of a story which will live for an eternity.

 

E-mail comments to ktc013@latech.edu.

 

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