"42" Movie review
by Adair Edwards' 22
The film 42 follows the life of the first African American to play MLB, Jackie Robinson, and the tough situations he faced as a black athlete in a racist world.
Jackie started his baseball career on an all-black team where he encountered many instances of racism while out in public. We see him being refused to use a bathroom at a nearby gas station. The employee questions him because he's not white, so he’s therefore not allowed to use the restroom. Jackie stands up to the man and refuses to buy gas there, telling the attendant that he will go somewhere where they do let him use the bathroom. Jackie stands up for his rights and eventually is given the right to use that bathroom. It is instances like this one that show the theme of the movie: Jackie Robinson will not give up on his dreams, no matter how racist those around him are.
Not only does Jackie experience racism in public, but eventually when he is recruited to play for the Montreal Royals , he faces racism in almost everyone he is surrounded by. The coach of the Montreal Royals believes that Jackie can succeed on the team, but also believes that this could be a chance for equality. Jackie is the first black player on an all-white team. During this time period, segregation is everywhere. He plays a game where the bleachers are separated: “white and colored.” Jackie is unable to fly to his game and instead has to take a bus because he is not allowed on an airplane. Throughout the movie, Jackie goes through the situations with a strong front and tough face, he doesn’t let them get to him.
Jackie proves those who don’t believe in him wrong. Once he has his chance to play, he shows them how talented he is. However, he struggles every day to get there, though. His one and only dream is to be on a high ranking team and to be given a chance of equality. He is told to get off of a field by a police officer before he can even bat for the first time. One teammate refuses to play with Jackie because of the color of his skin saying that his friends from Birmingham would “never forgive him.” He is also asked many questions by reporters like “What would he do if he was purposely hit by a ball.” He didn’t really know what to say other than all he wanted to do is play ball.
He eventually moves up to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The players’ reaction is to make a petition to keep Jackie on the Montreal Royals, which is then shut down after the coach tells them that “this isn’t the only one coming, there will be more.” When Jackie first enters the locker room he is honored to be there with his own uniform and everything, but is only greeted by two of his new teammates. Jackie keeps on a strong face and continues to show them how he deserves to be given an equal chance on the team.
When games begin to happen for the team many challenges are brought to Robinson. Jackie is constantly verbally attacked by the reporters and fans of the opposing teams. Before the game against the Giants one of the reporters said before the game that “negros are gonna run a white man straight out of baseball,” “I’m not prejudiced. It’s physiological. They have a longer heel bone. Gives them an unfair speed advantage.”After this comment Jackie hits a homerun and another one of the reporters said “Oh, is that because of his speed advantage?” Robinson again proves that reporter wrong and shows that all he wants is to be given a fair chance.
Throughout the movie Jackie’s teammates gradually come to realize that he should be given a chance to play ball and that he’s a part of their team. One of his teammates stands up to Ben Chapman on the Phillies, while he is cursing at Jackie when he is up to bat. The pitcher then directly attempts to hit Jackie but he ducks down. He starts being included more and is seen as equal by his whole team.
Branch Rickey, his coach, played by Harrison Ford, is the most encouraging part of his experience. He keeps Jackie from giving up on his dream and tells him this is a change that needs to be made. Coach Rickey gives Robinson a chance for many reasons and he tells him “You let me love baseball again.” Branch Rickey played on a team with a black catcher when he was younger and always thought that players should be given a chance to play ball no matter the color of their skin. Then this helped make his decision to reach out to Jackie and give him a chance to show his talent and change the whole baseball environment.
Throughout the movie the late Chadwick Boseman gives a great representation of Jackie's real life and the curve balls thrown at him. The movie really shows the viewers how Jackie was given a chance to play ball and all the chaos that came with it. The things that are done well in the film are the depictions of sports back then. Also, Boseman’s reactions toward the racial slurs and discrimination give audiences a better understanding of the impact of racism.