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Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures (2016)

December. 10,2016
| Drama History

The untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working at NASA and serving as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history – the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.


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The fact that this is based on real people and events, just made the film that much more intriguing.


A film about African-American mathematicians working at NASA in the 1960s who were critical to the USA's success in the Space Race. There are critics who've said that the film is a little heavy-handed in reminding the audience of the institutional culture which worked against women and African Americans at that time. But, it's a film intending to appeal to common sense, the difficulties people face, and by its style - create an emotional response. If it feels heavy-handed then be reminded that this isn't a documentary about NASA; it isn't a film about African American political activists; it's a film with a theme - people work hard toward a common goal but are let down by ignorant people on the same side. It's a film with big scope and big heart and strong central performances. It's also an interesting story and faithful to the real people and true events. There is an air of self-satisfaction, and it is straightforward and without any surprises, and there is an unfinished element to the ending, but it is enjoyable and it's at the better end of a long series of quasi-hagiographic movies made over the last decade.


The amount of racist twaddle on these reviews is disgusting!! 'It never happened' ' true story, means made up by Hollywood'?????!!!!!! This movie IS based on a true story, and one we should all know since its about the underdog, people who do not get recongised, and yes for ANY reason not just due to their colour! I'm sorry to say but in this era, there was racism and discrimination just like it is now! by people afraid they are going to die out!!?! Anyway just watch the film, enjoy it and if your get annoyed at it hopefully it will be at the cinematography or something! Xx


On the way home from seeing Hidden Figures, I flipped my car radio on to WRKF, the Baton Rouge public radio station my wife and I have listened to and supported since we moved here in August 1982. It came on in the middle of Bob Dylan's Ring them bells, the program being Nick Spitzer's American Routes. Although that song was recorded in 1989 at the end of Bob's Christian period, long after I'd quit paying attention to him for all practical purposes, the music, words and message echo his protest songs of the early 1960s.. Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf Ring them bells for all of us who are left Ring them bells for the chosen few Who will judge the many when the game is through Ring them bells, for the time that flies For the child that cries When innocence diesI wouldn't have known or recognized the song had I not bought the Amnesty International Chimes of Freedom 2012 compilation of 72 Bob Dylan covers two years ago. For that collection, Natasha Beddington, a popular young British singer whom I'd never heard of prior to that, performed a lovely cover of Ring them bells in pop R&B style. I was in the process of reviewing all the songs and researching the artists when my Mom became ill and I never finished that project.Next was the Byrds' 1969 psychedelic folk rock cover of Dylan's This wheel's on fire, the version the Zambo Flirts modeled an arrangement on and often performed live back in the '70s ("Please notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode"), followed by Dylan's completely hilarious after all these years Talking World War 3 Blues from 1961. By the magic of synchronicity, 1961 was the year Alan Shepard piloted the first US manned space launch, an event at the center of the action of Hidden Figures. The relevance of my long prelude: walking from the theater to my car I'd already been transported by the film back to the time of the Space Race, a signature geopolitical contest at the height of the Cold War, when it was the West against the East, the Free World against the Communist Bloc. The old friends I grew up with and other peers will remember seeing PSA's showing Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the podium at the UN and shouting (according to the subtitles) "We will bury you!" We remember John F. Kennedy challenging us to "Ask not what your country can do for you..." Back then (and long afterwards) anyone who publically questioned the Russians being our mortal enemies risked being the subject of a dossier in J. Edgar Hoover's desk, something that affects my thinking to this day. America was desperate not to be beaten in any venue by the Russians. When their Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space five weeks ahead of our Alan Shepherd, the nation and the much-heralded NASA space program were deeply humiliated.This is the context of Hidden Figures, the fact-based story of a group of highly intelligent, motivated and competent black women performing critically important work for NASA. I'm writing this review instead of my usual practice of doing background research on films based on history (a somewhat endangered discipline as I write this although I still believe it will outlive the current era of alt-facts). Thus, I have not fact-checked the film for accuracy. Be that as it may, Hidden Figures is a beautiful movie. It focuses on three real people, all black women employed at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA who worked on Project Mercury. The goal was to send astronauts into outer space and bring them home safely. Putting humans into space has always been a dicey proposition. The scientists and engineers at Langley had the heavy responsibility of designing, building, testing and approving the rockets, space vehicles and flight plans that had a significant chance of resulting in not just more national humiliation but the horrifying public deaths of our ultimate fly boys, the hand-picked guys who epitomized the Right Stuff. The task required bold mathematical, technological, and ergonomic innovation on a daily basis under intense pressure.The lead actresses, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and the irrepressible Janelle Monae are uniformly brilliant and engaging, portraying three exemplary patriots and public servants. We follow the women as they maintain their dignity under duress in the classic tradition of the Civil Rights Movement, make essential contributions to the success of Project Mercury, and hold precious private lives together while enduring the unapologetic racism and sexism of this time and place. The indignities they routinely suffer at and away from work are painful to watch, no less so for a viewer who recognizes that the struggle for opportunity, justice and basic human rights they embody is unfinished business even today, some 56 years later. Fine supporting performances are turned in by Kevin Costner as project director Al Harrison, Kirsten Dunst as the chilly supervisor of female NASA's employees, and Glen Powell as rock star astronaut John Glenn, among quite a few others. Hidden Figures is ultimately an uplifting, inspiring, feel good movie. It made me laugh, cry, and feel that pride we all have deep down of being a citizen of the USA, the ongoing experiment in self-government of which each fellow American is a stakeholder. It reminded me of who I am, the path I've traveled to arrive where I am, and, above all, affirmed who our greatest President, at another time of national crisis, once declared we all are:"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." (Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861).Go see it.