And here's to you, Jackie Robinson @ 3 April 2013 06:29 PM
Before you go see the upcoming big screen "42," starring Harrison Ford, Christopher Meloni and Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, you may want to see this award-winning documentary about the real Robinson. "Jackie Robinson: My Story" tells his life story ithrough rare footage and photographs from real life.
And it gives you an intense performance of Stephen Hill (Dead Man Down). "My Story" is just that. In a locker room setting, Hill as Robinson materializes to discuss his life and times directly to the camera -- to you, to young people.
This is a remarkable story about a towering American icon, not only of baseball, but of political activism, civil rights, the media and the changing times. The account is direct and honest, not only about Robinson's struggle to equality that seemed impossible at the time, but also of his issues with his people, his family and his son.
Hill's performance is understated, straightforward and matter-of-fact, which makes the moment he reflects on the loss of his son all the more effective. It should be noted that some language, particular racial slurs, are heard in this film, vicious things that were said in a less enlightened time.
As a production of limited budget but a lot of heart, "My Story" makes fine use of its source material. Even the music seems to fit the sequences.
The bonus feature, "Jackie Robinson: An American Hero" is a shorter version of the feature, using much of the same sources and a condensed edition of the same script. Perhaps this was created for groups and schools. It contains none of the offensive phrases heard in the other film.
Warren Schaeffer, who was also Director of Photography of "My Story," narrates offscreen. This distances the viewer from the impact of the dramatic story when compared to Hill speaking right to us in "My Story." Schaeffer does an earnest job, but it cannot compare to the effect carried off in the longer film. One wonders why they simply didn't edit "My Story" down, but perhaps the short film was made first.
It's worth mentioning the there was also a 1950 movie called The Jackie Robinson Story with the real Robinson playing himself. Considering his influence on history, it's about time a new movie is being released to theaters. This video makes a nice companion. Either way, this is a story worth telling and remembering.
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