In a game divided by color, one man changed how the sport of baseball was to be played from then on. The movie “42” is the story about a man named Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in baseball by being considered the first successful African-American baseball player. Now, we see many black baseball stars in the game today such as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, along with stars of the past such as Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and the Homerun King Hank Aaron. However, the movie isn’t only about Jackie’s baseball ability; the movie is also about all the adversity and abuse Jackie had to endure in order to break the color barrier. The movie is very powerful not just for the message it brings, but also to see the true story of how what Jackie needed to overcome.
Branch Ricky, the manager of the Major League Brooklyn Dodgers, discusses the idea of bringing in an African-American baseball player to the Dodgers. At first, he is ridiculed for the notion, but goes through with it anyway. He knew he had to pick a player from the Negro leagues that could stand the abuse, torture and ridicule from everybody, while being able to keep a cool head and play amazing baseball. He saw only one ball player that fit the bill, a young ball player named Jack Robinson. He was picked up by the organization and was sent immediately to spring training where the abuse started. Constant booing, verbal abuse and death threats were a normal day for Jackie. He worked his way through the Minor League system and made it to the Brooklyn Dodgers the following year. He was tested even more in the Major Leagues, in not only proving his skills, but in also keeping a handle on his temper. In the Majors, there are even more people watching who are ready to tear Jackie to bits. Jackie was tested, but makes it through earning the respect of others including his peers and teammates.
This movie was spectacular in a few of ways to me. The first was with how historically accurate the story was. Many people believe that Jackie was just assigned to play in the majors and that is the end of the story, while in actuality, he played a year in the minor leagues before making the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. Another aspect that was impressive was the chemistry between Branch Ricky and Jackie Robinson (portrayed respectively by Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman) was incredible. Both really seemed to have a connection during the movie, even though they were only in a few scenes together. Also, Ford nails the character of Branch Ricky, a true baseball fan who sees that there is an “un-pure” aspect to the game. The last part of the movie that really impressed me was the fact that the writers were not afraid to show how brutal people were both physically and verbally to Jackie. This was the type of movie that will not apologize for how intense the language was and what was said. While this movie may be too intense for some people to handle with the language and abuse shown, it was a very strong movie with a great message. A movie that well represents the first black ball player in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and the player who had the only number to be retired throughout all of baseball: 42.