The sport of baseball, which dates back as early as the 18th century, is now recognized and will continue to be recognized as a national sport as well as a great American pastime. So much has happened up to this point in time that has not only changed the way the sport is played, but also who plays it. For in the hands of two remarkable men, baseball was changed forever.
The film “42” follows the true story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB). Director Brian Helgeland (“A Knight’s Tale) takes viewers on an inspiring journey through what may be the greatest moment in all of baseball history – Jackie Robinson’s signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.
Although the whole life story of Jackie Robinson is interesting, the film only follows the first year Robinson played in the minors and so forth into the majors. It also takes heed at how difficult and severe life was like not only for Robinson during this time, but also as a whole for African Americans during the time of segregation.
Sports films, as a whole for me, are probably last on my list of movies to watch and enjoy. Not many are produced each year, but when they are, they try and succeed at a certain standard. Past films like “Field of Dreams” or “Remember the Titans” are what people may often first think of when they think of sports films. “42,” even though being classified in the sports genre of film, is more than just that. It’s a point in human history that changed the way society is perceived today.
For most of the films I review, the actors and actresses who portray the characters on screen are one of the main focal points of my judgment. To carry on the story, one must feel that whoever is playing said characters on screen is doing it in the most profound way possible. Not only do both Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson drive the film, the sideline characters add constant feel and attention to further drive the story of Robinson’s triumph in the MLB.
As far as the script goes, be aware of what points are trying to be made. This was a time when racial slurs and prejudiced views were widespread in society. There are many points in the film where racist remarks are heightened to drive the sense and feeling of what it was like in the past for African Americans. Even with constant takes on the relationship of children in regards to how they pictured the color of one’s skin.
Films that explore specific points in the history of racism in the U.S. are often scrutinized for the usage of racial slurs in the script, and are deemed as insensitive. The inclusion of such slurs in said films, however, is actually important to reflecting the accuracy of the times in these films. To not include them into historical storyline dialogue only ups their taboo factor and also creates a great disservice by not properly portraying how far we, as a society, have come from horrible, highly bigoted times.
Even without being a fan of sports, or baseball for that matter, this film will inspire anyone to follow their dreams and never give up at what they truly believe in. It’s amazing to see how one little thing can change the outcome of the future. Go see it.