Jackie Robinson Biopic Bittersweet Tale of Courage

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LOS ANGELES -- "Hero" is a word we often hear in sports, but heroism isn't always about the achievement on the field. The new movie "42" tells the story of two men whose courage helped change America.

It is about the great Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in baseball, and Branch Rickey, the man who chose Robinson to pave the way for blacks to play in the Major Leagues.

The film follows Robinson as he plays for the Brooklyn Dodgers, highlighting his struggles as well as his triumphs for the team in the late 1940s.

Facing blatant racism on every side, even from his own teammates, Robinson's life demonstrated tremendous courage -- and restraint.

CBN News asked Chadwick Boseman, who plays Jackie Robinson in the movie, his response when the real Mrs. Robinson asked him why he wanted to play her husband in the film.

"The response is that he's your hero and he's one of the people what we stand on his shoulders," Boseman replied. "He's walked a road that you should want to walk. He's courageous. He's everything you want to play when you're an actor. That's all I could say, and I told her I would do my best and put my all into this."
 
The film shows segregation's impact on the game and the people, white and black.

Oscar-nominated movie star Harrison Ford plays Brooklyn Dodgers' boss Branch Rickey.

Rickey's brave stand against racial prejudice helped change the world by changing the game of baseball. He put himself at the forefront of history in 1947 when he signed Robinson to his team, breaking the Major League's infamous color line.
 
"You say you were fascinated about this character.  What was it about him that really just grabbed you?" CBN News reporter Charlene Israel asked Ford.
 
"I understood his relationship with Jackie Robinson," Harrison said. "I read a very well-written script that gave me the opportunity, that gave me the context for an understanding of the character."

"But the emotional relationship I felt to him was very strong as well in both" he continued. "And both of those things are important to me. I understood the importance of what he was trying to do."
 
"42" also showcases the inspirational love story between Robinson and his wife, Rachel. Their strong bond allowed them to respond to hatred with decency and faith.

"When I spoke with Rachel Robinson, [the] first thing I really realized is that they did this together -- this was not just him," Boseman said.

"It sounds [like a] cliché, but behind every great man is a great woman, or even greater woman, but it's true that this was a unit." he said. "They were teammates and in fact I think she took the place of his teammates because they weren't supportive of him, especially at first."
 
The biopic is filled with both good and painful memories from America's history and offers teachable moments for people of all ages.

"I think it's a terrific movie and an important movie for people to see, young people especially who are unaware of the details of our history and how important this moment in baseball was to the civil rights movement, which was a lot closer in time because of the efforts of Jackie Robinson or Branch Rickey in baseball," Harrison said.

"42," rated PG-13, opens in theaters across America this weekend.

Originally published on April 11.

For More Information:

42 Movie

Jackie Robinson a Man of Faith: Column
Eric Metaxes column on the faith of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

Related Story:

'42' and Jackie Robinson's Legacy: An Interview with Director Brian Helgeland

Tough Themes, Inspiring Stories Box Office Homeruns? - Focus on the Family's Plugged In Online Review

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.