Date watched: Monday 6th February 2017
Year released: 2017
First time watching?: Yes
From IMDb: “The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.”
Movies like this always set my teeth grinding: how on Earth did we ever think it was OK to treat people the way we used to? As much as a lot of movies and book about race and discrimination are important, educational and generally good, it still makes me angry how we used to think segregation was normal. It makes me even more livid when I remember that shit like this still goes on in the world today.
It is always difficult to comment on media that deals so heavily on race. I adored this movie but the racial elements do make me angry and uncomfortable. However, at the time period this movie was set all of this would have been normal so looking past that …
Our three leading ladies were wonderful. I always love Octavia Spencer; she always provides such gusto and heart to any movie she does (although her best performance to my mind is still in “The Help”). Janelle Monáe was truly inspirational as Mary Jackson, a well educated woman who dreamed of becoming an engineer but was held back both for her gender and the colour of her skin. And as our main heroine, mathematician Katherine Johnson was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, who I’ll admit I’d never heard of before but she carried the movie wonderfully.
The balance between the progress towards NASA getting an astronaut into space and racial segregation is handled very well in this movie. In fact, as much as some of the characters individual victories were overcoming racial prejudice, “Hidden Figures” almost handles that as a back burner to a story about three incredibly talented women during a very exciting time in their lives.
This is an important part of history, especially with all the craziness going on in the world today *looks grimly over the pond to the States*. These women were incredibly valuable to the history of the space race, and it is shocking that the contributions of three women in a time where they were not even given the credit of having a brain is only just a story being told. This is primarily a movie about those three amazing women and the way their lives were affected by their work and prejudices towards their skin colour.
I’m not sure my review of this movie sells it especially well. As I mentioned at the start, it is always difficult to comment upon movies, and books, that have an undercurrent of racial prejudice without getting too deep into personal opinion. “Hidden Figures” is a wonderful, feel good piece of cinema, and an incredibly important movie in my opinion, considering the way our world is changing around us at the moment. A reminder that we don’t want to world to go backwards.
My rating: 8/10