In honor of Black History Month, the Windham Public Library has been showing films the past couple of Friday evenings about the challenges faced by African Americans in our history. The films included, “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Selma”. Today, Friday, February 22; the library will present the last of their black history evening films with the 2013 movie, “42”.
Before I go any further with this review, I must admit – I haven’t seen this film yet. Yes, even I think it may be strange to review a film you haven’t had a chance to watch. But I thought I would grab reviews from others who have enjoyed (or perhaps not enjoyed) the film and share it with you in the event you have Friday evening free and wish to watch a free movie with your family or friends.
The synopsis of the film, “42”, goes something like this: “In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing open racism from all sides, Robinson demonstrates true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting in kind and lets his undeniable talent silence the critics for him.”
According to Mick LaSalle who wrote a review for Rotten Tomatoes: “Appealing as drama, the movie is also an enticing trip back in time. The world of 1947, when Robinson became the first black player in major league baseball, may have been a nightmare in terms of social justice, but the fabric of the suits, the gleam of the cars and even the old-fashioned fonts on the street signs make us want to linger there. Watching it is like inhabiting a late-'40s technicolor travel short. "42" - named after the number on Robinson's jersey - is beautiful just to look at it.”
Roger Ebert had this to say: “If you were offended by the supposedly profligate use of the n-word in “Django Unchained,” it stands to reason you’ll be outraged by a scene in “42” in which Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman climbs out of the dugout and spews cruel racist epithets at Brooklyn Dodgers rookie Jackie Robinson.
You can see the pain and rage on Robinson’s face as he tries to concentrate on his at-bat, knowing if he goes after Chapman, the headlines won’t be about the hateful manager — they’ll be about the first black player in the major leagues ‘attacking’ the opposition.”
Ebert also stated that “42” is a valuable film — a long overdue, serious big-screen biopic about one of the most important American pioneers of the 20th century.
O.E Scott wrote in the New York Times: “After a clumsy and didactic beginning — in which every scene ends with Mark Isham’s score screaming “This Is Important!” in Dolby — the movie settles into a solid, square rhythm. By then we have met Robinson, played with sly charm and a hint of stubborn prickliness by Chadwick Boseman.”
If my Friday night opens up and is free, I’ll be at the Windham Public Library at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy “42” and learn a bit about history. Join me, won’t you?