I had the great fortune to be one of the selective few to see 42 before it came out in theaters. I went to a pre-screen in Glendale, CA and was given a paper to share my comments and thoughts on the film. I went ahead and gave them my humble opinion on the film coming from a die hard Jackie Robinson fan. I have seen the movie about 3 times and this last one was at Dodger Stadium. The writer didn’t seem to take notice on my input, so I will share my thoughts on the film.
As a Jackie Robinson fan, I am thankful that someone took the time and energy to make a film on Mr. Robinson. 42, the true story of an American Legend, as it was coined takes the viewer on what Jackie Robinson had to go through before he broke Baseball’s color barrier line in 1947. It spends a great deal on the years before ’47 and then the rest of the movie is based on Jackie’s first year with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
I appreciated the part of the movie when Jackie was staying in Sanford, Fl, but was forced to leave due to receiving threats by white supremacist. Seeing the town Sanford made me think of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman being set free. I guess when put in context, Sanford has a history of being on the other side of justice and equality.
There are a lot of great moments in the movie. One of the most emotional scenes is when the Phillies manager keeps saying racial slurs to Jackie as he batting. When Jackie makes an out and goes into the dugout tunnel, he loses it. The first time I saw that scene I cried. Everytime I see it I get emotional.
42, is a good hollywood movie. But, I don’t know what was the ultimate goal of this film. If the goal was to show movie goers the struggles that Jackie Robinson went thru then I guess they succeeded. If it was to show Jackie, an American Legend, it failed.
Jackie Robinson is an American Legend and no one can deny that. But, 42, did not show anything that would make Americans who are not Baseball fans understand why Robinson is a legend.
The Baseball community has already embraced Jackie as an American Legend and we honor him every April 15 as we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. Baseball remembers the day he broke baseball’s color barrier line and tries to use April 15 to carry his spirit and message of courage and determination as a reminder to all its players and fans of the struggles that Jackie went through to pave the way of our favorite baseball players.
The fact that the movie centers only on 1946 and ’47 does not give Robinson’s life any justice. The movie doesn’t mention anything about Jackie being forced to take all the hate and racial slurs for 2 years. It doesn’t make any reference to 1949, when he was allowed to speak his mind, when the Dodgers brought in Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, making them the first African American battery in Major League Baseball. It doesn’t mention how in 1949, he was the National Leagues’ MVP.
Jackie Robinson would soon understand that he was a commodity for baseball, saying, “America’s favorite color is green.” And, “Money is America’s God.”
What the film failed to show was Jackie Robinson’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Before, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, Jackie had done the same thing in 1945 and got court martial for it. The film made a brief reference but could’ve gone a little further. Jackie was a social conscious person who shared the same spirit of Roberto Clemente, as he famously stated, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Jackie lived by this quote. Now that he was able to speak his mind, Robinson publicly called the New York Yankees, a racist organization for not hiring a black player 5 years after he broke baseball’s apartheid system. After baseball, he was greatly involved in the struggles to better the lives of African Americans. One could see him with Martin Luther King, Jr. and sharing King’s nonviolent strategy on the Civil Rights Movement. He had his differences with Malcolm and those were publicly chronicled.
Jackie Robinson started a construction company to build affordable housing for African Americans. He join other picketers on the front lines protesting the lack of construction jobs given to African Americans. And in his autobiography, I Never Had It Made, he went on to say, “I cannot possibly believe I have it made while so many of my black brothers and sisters are hungry, inadequately housed, insufficiently clothed, denied their dignity as they live in slums or barely exist on welfare. I cannot say I have it made while our country drives full speed ahead to deeper rifts between men and women of varying colors, speeds along a course towards more and more racism.” Robinson later on adds, “I have devoted and dedicated my life to service…till every child can have an equal opportunity in youth and manhood; until hunger is not only immoral but illegal; until hatred is recognized as a disease, a scourge, an epidemic, and treated as such; until racism and sexism and narcotics are conquered and until…that day Jackie Robinson and no one else can say he has it made.”
The movie failed to show this other side of Robinson, the side that would have made non baseball fans understand why Jackie is an American Legend. They would have had several references to why Robinson is one of the unknown American Legends aside from breaking baseball’s color barrier line.
To give 42 justice would have been to make a movie that broadly chronicles Robinson’s life during and after his playing career. A better name for the movie would have been 1947: How Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s apartheid system.
Here is a great article that people will find interesting to read.
Tags: 42 the movie, autobiography, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Dodgers, Civil Rights Movement, Dodger Stadium, Dodgers, Florida, George Zimmerman, I Never Had It Made, Jackie Robinson, Jackie Robinson: American Legend, Malcolm X, MLK, New York Yankees, Revolutionary, Sanford, The Atlantic, thoughts on 42 the movie, Trayvon Martin