Jake O’Bannon, Staff Writer
According to Dictionary.com, the word “hero” is defined as, “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” This past week I saw a movie about a true American hero.
Directed by Brian Helgeland, “42” tells the story of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and his journey to become the first African American player in Major League Baseball history. Spanning from Jackie’s final days in the Negro League to his years as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, “42” portrays the trials and tribulations of the courageous man’s road to the majors.
Along with Jackie’s story, we are also introduced to Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the Dodgers Executive Manager. Both Mr. Robinson and Mr. Rickey lived the words of the hero definition over sixty years ago, and this film does a pleasant job of visualizing their heroics.
Rickey is the man who originally had the countercultural idea to put a black man in the MLB. After much research, he found the man that he believed could best endure the hardships it would take to pull off the idea: Jackie Robinson.
As you could imagine, the road was not easy. Actually, I take that back; none of us could fully imagine all Jackie went through to break the MLB color barrier. From death threats to racial slurs in the ballpark, Jackie faced adversity wherever he turned. Can we truly comprehend what that was like?
As far as critiquing the actual quality of this film, I would put it somewhere between a “Remember the Titans” and “The Blindside” in quality. Some of the scenes are short, very nearly coming off as cold and unfinished. This is the case because there is a lot of story to get to in two hours, and that tends to show. Also, the guy from “The Luck of the Irish” is in it, so I can’t help thinking of him singing This Land is Your Land in a Cleveland Browns shirt every time I see him. But the message and power of the actual story far outweigh the minor and silly imperfections of the film.
Both Rickey and Robinson fall under the umbrella of heroes, just in different ways. And though the times were different back then, both of their stories are still relevant to us today.
Branch Rickey believed strongly in the need for African American baseball players in the MLB, but he was not able to make that happen on his own. Because of that, he used his desire to spark a flame in another man so that it could be done. Rickey needed Robinson to make this dream a reality.
On the other hand, Jackie Robinson would have never been granted the opportunity to play in the majors if it were not for the dreams of Branch Rickey. These two truths are my favorite aspects of the film. Without each other, this could not have been done. Jackie’s role was the harder one; there is no doubt about that. But with courage and bravery he took on the challenge each new day. And Rickey’s decision was not a popular one, but with courage and bravery he went against the culture and put in place a man who would forever change the ethos of sports for the better.
We should be challenged by the actions of these two heroic men. And through them, we should also recognize that there are ambitions in life we might have that we can’t do on our own. Great change normally takes a village to be successful. I challenge us to be that village for the people around us and the passions they hold. Branch Rickey gave Jackie Robinson the chance to change the world, and Jackie Robinson had the courage and perseverance to make it happen. How will you trigger someone to do good in the world? And in what way can you be the image of change that the world needs?
“42” is an inspiring film about a true hero. I strongly recommend going to see it, and I hope that it moves you in the same was I was moved.
This is my forty-first movie review. I was really wishing I had done one more so I could have reviewed “42” on my forty-second review. But next week will be my last review for The Echo, and I hope you take some time to give it a read. Have a great week!