'Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson'
(Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG / 2016 / PBS)
Overview: 'Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson' tells of the story of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, a sharecropper's son who elevated an entire race and country when he broke major league baseball's color barrier in 1947. The film illuminates Robinson's place as a leader and icon of the civil rights movement whose exemplary life and inspirational message of equality continues to inspire generations of Americans.
DVD Verdict: As you would fully expect from the documentary master, 'Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson' is incredible. Simply incredible to sit back and behold. Jackie Robinson's life story from his birth in 1919 to his death in 1972 is told here by filmmakers Sarah Burns, David McMahon and Ken Burns in a four hour documentary. Spread over two parts originally on PBS TV, the show is captivating from moment number one - whether you are a baseball fan or not.
We watch as Robinson rises from humble beginnings to break the color barrier in the Major League Baseball. Robinson's on the field contributions over a ten year career transform the Dodgers into perennial contenders; while his courage and accomplishments advance the civil rights movement off the field. After baseball, as both a both a businessman and leader, Robinson tirelessly fights inequality and discrimination. Interwoven into the story is how Robinson's family life and marriage shaped the man who would became an American icon.
'Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson' is a solid in-depth look at his life. Unlike the previous movies and biographies, the documentary highlights Jackie's failures as well as his triumphs. While "42" was a terrific movie, it only focused on Jackie's early career when he broke the color barrier and the short time following it. This documentary highlights the years following Jackie's breakthrough where he became much more outspoken and ruffled many feathers among teammates and media members. It also documents Jackie's post playing career where he faced a backlash due to his political views and had a strained relationship with his eldest son who preceded him in death.
Honestly, I never knew about Jackie's brother's amazing story. The main thing missing is Jackie Robinson's own voice in his early life. He has limited recordings and overwhelmed by the aura that he himself created during that time. This has the Ken Burns style with the constant narration. It is certainly a good basis to get a fuller understanding of the man more than the superficial image. Come the end, this brutally open, honest and revealing 4-hour journey helps to establish a more human perspective of Jackie Robinson's life while not tarnishing his legacy. Well done, Mr. Ken Burns. Well done. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
The Anderson Monarchs
A Conversation With The Filmmakers