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"Hidden Figures" Review

By Anya Aidun in Arts & Culture


"Hidden Figures"

“Hidden Figures” directed by Theodore Melfi, follows the remarkable journey of three African American women creating their legacy in NASA. Set in Virginia in the 1960’s, racism and sexism are large obstacles the three main characters Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson must overcome.

These three women help to provide the mathematics and data needed to send a man in and out of orbit. Time is of the essence as the teams at NASA are working to beat out their Russian counterparts.

I thought this film was absolutely phenomenal. It brought to cinema strong intelligent female role models who were praised on their brains. It’s about time young women and girls had something of substance to base themselves upon. Throughout the film the three main characters, had to prove themselves and their capabilities, based on their intelligence. It gave a good incentive to women to not “dumb themselves down,” and to be strong leaders in our communities.

For example, one of the best scenes was when Katherine went into a Pentagon meeting and proved her worth by calculating the exact coordinate points that the craft would land in the Bahamas, based on the no-go point, and everyone from that point on respected her.  

Taraji P. Henson playing Katherine Johnson brought a brainy and assertive main character to the movie. One the most empowering scenes was when Katherine stood up for herself by explaining to her supervisor Mr. Harrison (Kevin Costner) that there were no colored bathrooms in the building, and that she had to walk a half a mile just to go to the bathroom.

Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) and Janelle Monae (Mary Jackson) brought humor and even more brains to the film. One of the more known quotes of the film but still powerful, is when Mary is asked that if she was a white man, if she would want to be an engineer. She replies with “I wouldn’t have to. I already would be one.” She goes through the court to be able to take high school classes in an all white school in order to apply for the engineering program. Mary Jackson eventually became an engineer. Dorothy Vaughan eventually worked the IBM machine and interpreted computer coding, and became the first African American to hold a supervisor position in NASA.

Although this film is focused on its female roles, Kevin Costner playing Mr. Harrison was a terrific addition. He helps Katherine throughout the movie as he ends the segregation of bathrooms, takes the “colored” label off of the coffee maker, and gives Katherine clearance to be in on a Pentagon meeting about the crafts trajectory. He had a flawless performance and added a lot of emotion to the story. I also loved Mary’s husband who said another of my favorite quotes: “A fight for civil rights isn’t always so civil.”

The real power of the film lies in the message. It creates an optimistic feeling that anything is possible, with the right work ethic. Time after time the sacrifices Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary make for NASA are shown directly in their personal lives with their children and husbands. I loved that finally this iconic message was shown in the lives of women. It gave a very impactful initiative to me, and actually made me want to get more into coding and mathematics, and perhaps end up at NASA. The real reason why this movie is so great is because it is relevant with sexism today. It gives something for girls and young women like myself to look up to. I’d without a doubt give it a 10/10.

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