Hidden Figures: A Compelling & Heartwarming Film that tells the story of Three African American Women working at NASA


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Hidden Figures celebrates the three women who were the brains behind John Glenn’s launch into space.

Hidden Figures : 4 Stars

Hidden Figures (2016), directed by Theodore Melfi tells a heartwarming story about three brave women of color with respectable jobs at NASA in the 1960’s. The film is primarily built around Katherine Goble Johnson, a natural math genius, played by the exceptional Taraji P. Henson.

The first scene opens on Johnson as a child, solving a mathematical equation on a chalkboard in a room full of stumped high school students. A small, opening montage of events from her childhood prove how brilliant Johnson is. Cut back to the present (the 1960’s), and Johnson still wears her cat-eye glasses and intelligent whit.

The film follows Johnson as she saves one of NASA’s space shuttles using analytical geometry. The story of these three strong women has never been told, hence the movies’ dual-meaning title. Since she is a woman, Johnson is not yet cleared to receive all of the information her male peers possess. Part of the equations that Johnson is given involving the astronauts’ launching and landing is classified and figures are hidden. This ultimately makes her job a lot harder.

Johnson is part of a reasonably large group of African American women employed at NASA during the 1960’s, working for hardly any money. When she is hired for a permanent assignment which will allow her to truly use her mathematical talent, she realizes her world is about to change. Johnson’s new work environment consists of nearly all white men. Johnson is terrified. Not to mention, she has to leave her new and already-fast-paced job to use the colored women’s bathroom a half of a mile away. The musical score aided in the scene where Johnson runs a mile to return back to work before anyone notices she had left to relieve herself.

Johnson’s closest colleagues working at NASA were played by Octavia Spencer, as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monaé, as Mary Jackson. Spencer was truly incredible in this film. Her smooth, southern accent made her lines seem effortless, yet filled with passion. Monaé also portrayed her character well, going to great extents to prove she was a woman worthy of attending a college course required to be an engineer despite the fact that the University only accepted white men.

It is hard to grasp the fact that these remarkable women portrayed in this film were only recently appreciated in modern-day society. The film opens one’s eyes to the idea that there are hundreds of heros hidden in history.

The director did an excellent job of having his three main actresses act respectable and timid, yet passionate and willing to surpass the norm. Melfi worked with a small adapted screenplay and created something truly incredible.