*Spoiler Alert! If you are avoiding spoilers, do not read further. You’ve been warned.*

 

 

 

Hidden Figures replaced Rogue One in the box office this weekend and the film is worth your viewing time and money. Hidden Figures is based off a non-fiction book about three African-American women working as mathematicians for NASA during a time in U.S.’s history of segregation and a space race with Russia. Both of these histories meet to become a part of each of the women’s story in the film, creating an interesting storyline and an enjoyable movie.

Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) work together in NASA with a large group of women known as computers. The computers calculate all the trajectories and mathematical information for space flight and are the foundation of most of the operations in NASA.

Dorothy Vaughan is currently filling the role of a supervisor over the group of women. Although, she may have the responsibilities of a supervisor, NASA has not actually given her the promotion she continues to apply for. Mary Jackson is working on a space shuttle project and is doing the work of an engineer but discovers she must attend courses at a white school to become an actual engineer. Kathrine Johnson is a mathematical genius and is assigned to a position to help the struggling Space Task Group successfully get John Glenn into space.

Katherine Johnson appears to be the star of this movie with most of her story being front and center in the plot, but Dorothy and Mary are still given enough time to build their characters roles in Hidden Figures.

Katherine works for Space Task Group with Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) who is leading the group of geniuses calculating the trajectories for John Glenn’s first flight into space. The group of men quickly find Katherine knows her stuff while still trying to deal with discrimination at every turn, from having to walk a long distance to segregated toilets to having the men she works with literally segregate the coffee pots. It all builds up to the point where Harrison blows up for Katherine being gone and away from her desk. The segregated bathrooms quickly come down. Katherine still works the calculations for the space race and proves she knows what she is doing. Katherine convinces Harrison and Stafford (Jim Parsons) she must be allowed into the meetings where information keeps changing so she can stay on top of the calculations.

Mary has an engineer’s mind but is not allowed to do the same work as other engineers at NASA without the educational requirements. Though Brown v. Board of Education declared segregated schools as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the state of Virginia legally still practices separation in schools. Mary is able to convince a judge to be the first and open a school up so she can continue her education as an engineer.

Dorothy Vaughan finds out from Vivian (Kirsten Dunst) their jobs will be replaced after John Glenn’s flight. Dorothy discovers NASA is setting up an IBM computer to replace the human computers in order to make faster calculations. Dorothy rises to the occasion and steals a book at the library since the segregated library stops her from being able to access the books she needs to learn about the new system at NASA. Dorothy teaches the other women how to program the IBM and the group of women is placed as programmers on the new system.

Hidden Figures is such an amazing film filled with stories from these three women’s lives, their work, and their struggles. The cast is solid and all did a wonderful job in portraying the characters. Taraji P. Henson did a marvelous job as the intelligent yet sometimes awkward Katherine Johnson. The moment she loses her cool at Costner’s character, Harrison, after running to the separate bathroom in the rain is so poignant and perfect for a character who is working her butt off and yet still has to deal with the weight of the world’s problems on all women of color. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monae as Mary do an excellent job with their roles. All the women have excellent chemistry and it’s a privilege to witness in Hidden Figures.

I need this soundtrack. The music is catchy and memorable and at times it’s also a bit of something from the past. The music matches the tone of the movie well. I think it was an excellent decision music wise on the part of the creators of the film.

I did not know how Hidden Figures would set up a piece of known history and make it interesting enough to hold the audience’s attention, but the director, Theodore Melfi, is able to do just that. We all know John Glenn successfully makes it back to earth, but the film is able to illustrate the tension well. It felt like I was in the past and waiting on pins and needles for the news about John Glenn’s safe landing back to earth, and I already know what happens!

This story is excellent. Hidden Figures is a wonderful portrayal of U.S.’s history and how these amazing women, despite all the prejudice in the country, are able to still achieve so much and also bring others along with them as well, like Dorothy when she mentors the other women to program the new IBM system.

Hidden Figures does a wonderful job promoting STEM for all. The three main characters in Hidden Figures are brilliant and do amazing work for NASA even though much of the world tries to hold them back, but I wonder how much more these women might have achieved if those times had been a much more open world. Many of the men in Hidden Figures miss key elements in their work at NASA, which the women quickly resolve. An example of this is when the men set up the IBM and Dorothy Vaughan actually learns about the system. Even the men setting up the system are confounded.

STEM needs to be open to all with all sorts of minds. This gives humanity a much larger opportunity for some very amazing discoveries. Diversity is a major benefit for progress in so many contexts and this includes STEM.

Give Hidden Figures a watch in theaters. It’s a wonderful movie mixed with history and the individual experiences of three extraordinary women at NASA. Not all stories get time in the spotlight, but Hidden Figures rightfully deserves it. It’s about where this country has been and where it can go. Hidden Figures is relevant now as many talk of space travel and the future in STEM.

Go see Hidden Figures in theaters right now! Have you already seen the film? Put your Geeky Talk in the comments below and tell us what you think.

 

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