The new Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, celebrates the baseball icon’s athleticism and self-mastery, a heavy-duty pairing of archetypal energies represented by Mars and Saturn.
Robinson, whose father had walked out on the family when Robinson was just a boy, had excelled as an athlete at U.C.L.A. He was never lacking in Mars. But he had also risen to the ranks of a commissioned Army officer during World War II, a role that required following Saturnine military rules, a knowledge of martial combat, and pledging one’s loyalty to proverbial father figure Uncle Sam.
After the war, Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), begins playing for the Kansas City Monarchs, a team in the Negro leagues. But destiny would soon introduce him to real-life father figure, protector and supporter Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Rickey’s mission was to desegregate baseball, then a white-man’s game, and his “plan” was to bring on a young African-American to play for the Dodgers. Rickey seems initially motivated by money – he knows full well that black baseball fans will fill the stadiums – and takes a Saturnine ends-justifies-the-means approach, knowing his higher ups will condemn him for his actions. (The movie gradually reveals the strong visionary and moral core tied to Rickey’s decision). He enlists Robinson, promising him that if the recruit does well playing for their affiliate minor-league team, the young ballplayer will be guaranteed a spot on the Dodgers’ team.
There’s a catch though. Robinson must promise Rickey to keep his cool and resist any urge to fight back when the onslaught of racial slurs most certainly will come his way. Essentially, keep the Mars fire burning when you get to bat and steal bases, but embrace Saturnine control and restrict any urge to confront racism on or off the field.
The Mars-and-Saturn combo has often been described as driving with one hand tied behind your back – the go-but-stop principle – and most of 42 depicts Robinson dealing with keeping a balance between those two forces during his rookie year with the Dodgers in 1947, with support from his wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie), black sportswriter Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), and certain team members such as PeeWee Reese (Lucas Black) and Ralph Branca (Hamish Linklater).
At the beginning of the movie, Rickey and Robinson talk. “You want a player without the guts to fight back?” asks Robinson. “No, I want a player who has the guts not to fight back.” Legacies are born in unusual ways. Controlling (Saturn) temper (Mars) while excelling (Saturn) in a revered sport (Mars) is one of them.
Astrology Film Rating: ♂♄ (Mars, Saturn)