Four of us went to see the story of Jackie Robinson, the "legend", last night (opening night in our big city) based on the true story. The theater was very nicely filled but not packed. And the audience did clap at the end -- a rare occurrence these days. I found the movie starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford most engaging and with minor exceptions excellently presented. As a lover of baseball, it made my understanding of how the game has evolved at key times and helped mold our society and the role certain men (and women) played in that. It helped me understand why the number "42" is revered in our Rogers (SkyDome) Centre in Toronto and why on certain days all players wear it across the league. As always, change towards good for many often comes at the expense of the suffering of a few -- and sometimes only one. Which takes me to the overtones of Christianity in this movie -- from the Methodist religion of Robinson and the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to the comments about what Robinson has to suffer for others, and finally the closing song -- those of the Christian faith could easily identify the connections to what they believe.
I was surprised that the film did not tell us more about Robinson's life as a child and teenager except one passing reference that his father walked out on the family when he was six months old. We see or hear almost nothing of his mother(one friend reminded me that she is shown very briefly taking care of the baby when Jackie & Rachel were going away). And no other members of the family are shown or referred to. I don't know what "baby" the director wanted to use in the film to portray the birth of Robinson's son, but in my opinion he certainly wasn't a "newborn" lying there in the hospital in his glass bassinet. Continuity was also questioned by this viewer when supposedly several weeks or months later, the mother is shown cuddling what appeared to be a much smaller bundle in her arms at one of Robinson's games.
If you can forgive those minor flaws as I did, you have a very meaningful and historical movie that is highly recommended and one that you can take the entire family too. There's much there for all of us and I hope there's an oscar or two there for the cast (Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, and Nicole Beharie (who plays Mrs. Rachel Robinson) are so good in this movie.
At the end, we are told what actually happens (in real life) to the main characters. And needless to say, people get their just desserts -- the prime example being the coach of the Phillies at the time. He taunted Robinson the most. A year later he was fired and never rehired again by anyone. Others who couldn't accept the change kept getting sent to "Pittsburgh" and I wouldn't be surprised if "going to Pittsburgh" becomes a phrase which means being "sent to the worse place possible" once this movie gets seen by many.
Finally the friendship of Pee Wee Reese, a Christian, is shown clearly in the movie and Mr. Reese has a story of his own that is also most interesting and worth checking out on the internet. He died in 1984; Robinson in 1972. See the movie with your kids -- the best history lesson they'll get. In one scene, one young boy at the game is a real fan (with his dad) of Pee Wee Reese. Then he hears his dad calling out racial slurs at Robinson and booing him. The kid wants to be like his dad and joins in. Then there's this great scene with Pee Wee Reese and the child is caught in a dilemma -- his hero, Reese, has just embraced the black Robinson which his father abhors. If nothing else, it points out how our children and grandchildren model us.
See the movie. You won't regret it.
You can watch the trailer of the movie here.
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