I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like it’s been a while since there’s been a major motion picture release that centered on a historical African American figure. You know, those legendary folks you read about in books and always seemed to have to do book reports and presentations for in elementary and middle school come February, but didn’t quite get the meaning of WHY you actually had to do them until you were older? The last one I can think of that’s most recent is probably Red Tails, and I know more than a few folks would probably argue me down on that one. Well, it was only a matter of time before we got a movie about the first black baseball player to break the color barrier and play in the majors, Jackie Robinson.
And so, the latest in a long line of films that fit this bill is now 42, a movie that’s centered around the struggle and difficult journey of Robinson to become the first African American baseball player to reach the major leagues. Actor Chadwick Boseman portrays Robinson, and from the looks of the trailer that was released just a week ago, he seems to have the legendary, groundbreaking baseball player down to a tee, from the grimacing stare he gives the ball as he crushes it to the upper deck of the bleachers, to the raspy tone of voice that Robinson eventually became known for. 42 also stars Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, the man that signed Robinson and brought him to New York in the days when more than a handful of people didn’t want him there.
As a Hip Hop fan, one of the things that caught me by surprise was the fact that the trailer for 42 features the music of Jay-Z in the form of “Brooklyn Go Hard”, the song he made with Santigold for the Biggie movie Notorious back in 2009. Although, I guess I shouldn’t be all that taken aback, seeing as Jay-Z’s music has been featured in the trailers for plenty of major motion pictures in the last few years, such as The Hangover Part II, Safe House, American Gangster, This Means War and The Great Gatsby.
Funny enough, there have been a few people that have dismissed the move to include Hova’s music in such a movie’s trailer as crass and unfitting, but to me, it actually works pretty effectively with the dramatically engaging images of the interactions between Robinson and Rickey, Robinson getting intentionally hit in the face with a baseball, and Robinson surrounded by a swarm of news reported, at that point probably having been billed as the next big thing of his day and a newsworthy gold mine of a story for the version of the paparazzi back then.
42 won’t be released until April of 2013, but you can already feel the Oscar buzz percolating and oozing all around it. Personally I’m glad to see that this story will hit the big screens soon. And judging from the trailer, there’s a lot to look forward to. Hopefully 42 will expose a new generation of people from several walks of life, including sports and period piece fanatics, to the historical significance of what Robinson did for African Americans in professional sports. Brooklyn Stand up! 🙂
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