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By Albert Kim
Updated April 14, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream

type
  • Movie
genre

He had the power of Ruth, the grace of Mays, and the consistency of Williams, yet when hot-stove natterers argue about who was the greatest player of all time, rarely does Hank Aaron’s name come up. ”Had he been white,” says Harry Belafonte, ”he would have been the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.” Such racial ; issues and how they intertwined with baseball history form the emotionally charged core of Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (TBS, April 12, 8:05-10:05 p.m.), an engaging biographical documentary about the man who toppled the beloved Babe Ruth to become baseball’s all-time home run king. Aaron’s story is told using a mix of archival footage, original interviews, and, more unconventionally, dramatic reenactments. ”We prefer to call them ‘portraitures,”’ says director Mike Tollin. ”They serve the same purpose as stills or talking heads, only it’s much more dramatic storytelling.” Another decision made for drama’s sake was to use actor Dorian Harewood as the voice of ”Hammerin’ Hank,” rather than have the 61-year-old Aaron himself narrate. ”I don’t know if purists are going to be offended,” says Tollin, ”but ultimately my criterion was that everything on the screen is accurate.” ”I never thought about my life as a drama,” says Aaron, who retired from baseball in 1976 with 755 home runs. ”And some people are not going to believe my story. But all of it was very, very true.” It’s a story that shows Aaron growing up in Jim Crow poverty in Alabama, finding glory with the Milwaukee (later Atlanta) Braves, enduring waves of jaw-droppingly virulent hate mail as he approached Ruth’s ”untouchable” record, and finally, assuming the burdens of social activism. ”This is a story of courage,” says Denzel Washington, one of the film’s executive producers. ”It inspires me. It helps put into perspective what I do.”

Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
director
  • Michael Tollin

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