“42” SERVES BOTH IT’S SUBJECT AND AUDIENCE WELL
Since this site has frequently asked questions about the state of ethnically diverse film content in recent Hollywood, it’s great to see yet another film that seems to benefit from the strength’s of so many other recent films. Earnest, yet not nearly as dedicated to a singular school of politics as the recently developed “Red Tails,” “42” provides some hints as to how a diverse audience might be served by a movie so motivated by the trials of one singular community. Basically the movie shrewdly demands that the stories of a few belong to the collective history of us all.
Both a reference to the turbulent 20th century year and the number on Jackie Robinson’s National League Jersey, “42” helps us imagine a 21st Century cinema that can promote a racially inclusive U.S. history. Like the recent film “Lincoln” the movie chooses to diminish comments about the African American community that audiences might easily recognize as derivative. Also a studio has a wide variety of heroes that can be found in scenarios that otherwise might appear vacant of a progressively motivated white population.
Played convincingly by Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie, “42” focuses on less than a year of the Robinson couple’s life. Skillfully negotiating a balance of sociopolitical brilliance, at the expense of the range and scope most biopics aim to supply, “42’ scores despite its limited ambition.
Sometimes it wasn’t huge protest rallies or civil rights activists who motivated change in social customs but it was instead ordinary white citizens who dismantled oppressive traditions. Even when they had the most to lose in regard to profit, social status, and mobility, sometimes they were the motivators, cheerleaders and lead strategists promoting change. A business man, working at least one marketing angle, Harrison Ford’s Branch Rickey isn’t an angel but he certainly has the best expressed liberation theology of any of the rest of the character cast. Amongst all the other narrative surprises of this screenplay, Ford’s character isn’t the only character demonstrating this integrity. Revealing all of the communities who were both for and against Jackie Robinson’s attempts to break segregated professional baseball, the film seems to insist that the successes of what would be come the civil rights movement, were the result of collective efforts (not solely the isolated efforts of the motivated few).
Like “Django Unchained” this movie not only presents the African American couple as a strategic team yet also invests enough time to distinguish what they liked about one another. Amazingly this movie, directed by Brian Helgeland attempted to please all of its audiences.
Were there any weaknesses for this story; I would say only one. We may have to wait for a future where we can actually learn how great men of this period actually were different despite their amazing athletic talent. Though some insight into the main character occurs, you may find yourself wondering what motivations differed from his and other African American super stars like Satchel Page, Willy Mays, or Hank Aaron. We may have to wait to hear about what courageous human genius and motivations distinguished these incredible individuals, until then “42” will make a more than adequate substitute.
* This weeks schedule:*
Monday: More Power to the Women: Emerging Women Writers in Hollywood by Parisienne
Tuesday: 7Pm EST live discussion
Wednesday: follow up discussion on Monday’s Article & 2nd article in our series The Next Generation of Films for Women by Lillebells
Thursday/Friday: 7 Pm EST live discussion
Friday: follow up discussion on Wednesday’s article
Films out this week *
Pain & Gain