Jackie Robinson Day is today, April 15th, and this year the day carries a special importance as it comes on the Monday following the release of ’42’, a biopic outlining Jackie Robinson’s climb to Major League Baseball and his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers as he broke baseball’s colour barrier.
With that in mind, I had the genuine pleasure to take in ’42’ last evening, and as a fan of baseball, a person that loves history, and an open-minded guy, I can legitimately say that I really enjoyed this film on multiple levels.
The film does a great job of explaining the situation in the outside world, as the events came after the end of World War II, in a time where African-Americans had fought in the war to help free Europe and the Pacific but were still highly separated throughout much of the United States of America, including playing baseball in their own league, the Negro National League.
What many tend to forget was that the breaking of the colour barrier in baseball in 1947 was a huge step in the Civil Rights movement in the United States, and Jackie Robinson bore the brunt of the initial vitriol of that movement when he first reported to training camp with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Montreal Royals in early 1946, then once again when he made the Dodgers in April of 1947.
’42’ portrays these events in a manner that draws in viewers completely. The film did a great job of making you root for Robinson in particular, and the Dodgers in general, as they compete during the 1947 season for the bulk of the film.
Chadwick Boseman brings Robinson to life in ’42’ and is a star in the making as a result of this role. Additionally, Harrison Ford is wonderful as Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, the man responsible for bringing Robinson to the Major Leagues.
Films like this do not come around all that often anymore, and the combination of sports, history and civil rights results in a film that is a must see for anyone that has an interest in any of those three categories. I fully recommend ’42’ as my favourite film of 2013 so far.
For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.