*Because this is a Ken Burns product, it goes without saying that tonight’s “Jackie Robinson” documentary is about as comprehensive and through and definitive a look at the man’s life as has ever been done.
Part One airs tonight from 9 to 11, followed by Part Two on Tuesday (April 12) in the same timeslot.
While President Obama and Harry Belafonte are among the film’s featured interviews, it is Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, who steals the show – in the same way her husband stole bases. At 93-years-young, her warmth and wit is woven evenly throughout, adding further color to Robinson’s narrative with her details and insight. (She still refers to her husband’s integration of baseball as “The Experiment.”)
In July, she charmed TV critics while appearing with Burns to discuss the film at the Television Critics Association Press Tour. Below, she gives more details about a memorable moment from tonight’s Part One – how she and Jackie first met on the campus of UCLA.
Narrated by Keith David, with Jamie Foxx reading Robinson’s words, Burns film reminds us that Jackie Robinson is more than simply the man who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Through tons of rarely-seen archival footage, photos and anecdotes, viewers will get to know Robinson as the husband, father, soldier, civil rights activist and businessman that contributed just as much to America’s history as his accomplishments in the Major League.
“I think, for really too long, Jackie Robinson has been a kind of mythological figure, but suffered from just the conventional wisdom that attends to that,” Burns told the TCA. “He’s sort of encrusted with the barnacles of sentimentality and nostalgia. And it was our purpose to, sort of, prove some of these old things wrong, to provide a much more complex and, we think, richer and more interesting story about his life, and that’s why it required us to dive as deep for as long and as many years as it took and to do it in two episodes, four hours.”
Below, a preview and clip from “Jackie Robinson: A Film by Ken Burns”: