Friday, June 8, 2018

Period Drama: Hidden Figures

Based on real events, and the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, this film was nominated for three academy awards.

What It's About:

In 1961, before the public use of computers, men and women were employed at NASA to calculate by hand the delicate math required for space travel. Three of these "human computers", Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, struggle to be heard and treated fairly amongst their colleagues, as they are not only women in a men's world, but African American. Fighting gender inequality and racial prejudice, these three women pave the way for women in STEM, and are invaluable in NASA's success during the Space Race.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Man or woman, this story is inspirational and empowering.
  • Snappy, smart, fighting women who know what they are capable of, but aren't ball-busters or troublemakers, which makes them incredible role models.
  • Based on real people and events, it's more than just a story, it's a crucial piece of American history.
  • It doesn't make one group look entirely good while the other is entirely bad. It is more about women working hard and wanting to be given the chance to succeed based on their merit alone rather than based on colour or gender. Yet it doesn't hide the fact in any way that there was a lot of injustice at the time and more hurdles to overcome than we can imagine.
  • The costumes are beautiful and really add to the atmosphere of the movie, as do the historic clips that sometimes feature.
  • Although science and math feature in this movie, you don't have to understand either to follow the content, and enjoy it.

Why You Might Want To Skip It:
  • It's not gritty. If you are looking for one that really hits hard to the prejudice and racism experienced by these women, then this does take the Hollywood route in several ways.
  • It's a bit difficult to see Jim Parsons as anyone other than The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper, although this is no fault of his own. Perhaps getting used to him in other things in the future will help.
  • The timeline for some of these things was a bit skewed in order to make it more dramatic for Hollywood. Many of the aspects of segregation occurred at NASA's predecessor NACA, and had been less prevalent by this time, some of the events that are shown to occur with one person actually happened to another, etc. So if you are looking for perfect historical accuracy, it falls a little short, but is close.
Final Thoughts

I hope movies like this help put the names of Vaughan, Johnson, and Jackson into the forefront of minds, and that little girls will know them when thinking of their heroes. 

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