- (Photo: D. Stevens/Warner Bros. Pictures)
Friday has arrived with the nationwide premiere of "42," a new film based on the true story of baseball great Jackie Robinson.
Harrison Ford stars as Major League Baseball executive Branch Rickey while Chadwick Boseman shines in his portrayal of Robinson in the new film, directed by Brian Helgeland.
In his first role ever as a non-fiction character, Ford delivered a powerful performance as the pivotal Baseball Hall of Famer who broke the MLB's color barrier in 1947. After signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey helped put an end to segregation and paved the way for the unquestionably talented athlete's decorated career.
With the help of a "fat suit," Ford was transformed into Rickey; a hefty, bushy-browed and adamant General Manager whose strong faith as a Christian led him to recognize the potential in Robinson.
"I had the idea that the film would be much better served by a Rickey look-alike than a Harrison Ford look-alike," the Academy Award nominated actor revealed during a press event in Los Angeles.
The avant-garde baseball mogul signed Robinson to the Dodgers on April 15, 1947, much to the rest of MLB's chagrin at the time.
"When God asks you why you didn't [approve of an African American's addition to MLB,] that answer might not be sufficient," Rickey roars in a scene where he is defending Robinson.
Also revealing a strong faith in "42," Robinson sought strength in God, and many scenes included spiritual elements such as prayer and reverence.
"God built me to last," said Robinson during the film.
Together, Robinson and Rickey rose above the hatred and racism found in baseball as well as the rest of the world at that time.
Bearing a slight resemblance to Robinson, fresh-faced actor Boseman accurately depicts the self-containment, patience and virtue with which Robinson went on to become one of the most celebrated athletes in history.
In a most painful scene, Robinson unleashes his frustration on a baseball bat in the stadium tunnel, violently shattering it on a wall. Then, in tears, Robinson is consoled by Rickey who compares his strife to that of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore,"42" offers several laughs in addition to shedding light the lesser-known story of the marriage between Robinson and his wife Rachel. The unexpected love story adds depth and background to Robinson's legacy while also emphasizing the importance of family.
Meanwhile, in homage to Robinson, the number 42 jersey became the first number ever to become retired in MLB history. Also, each year on April 15, every MLB player on every MLB team bears the distinctive number in remembrance of the illustrious athlete.
In theaters everywhere on Friday, "42" includes strong language and is rated PG-13.