Hidden Figures tells the story of three young, brave and brilliant black women and their achievements in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the cold war era. Their work ultimately led to the completion of one of the most successful space operations in history; the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.
The true story on which is movie is based was relatively unknown before the release of this film. This is unfortunate because it delivered a powerful message during a time of racial insensitivity and discrimination; scientific advancement should be hindered because of race, gender or color. Hidden Figures delivers this message in a conducive manner through its warm hearted tone coupled with recognizable imagery covering themes of discrimination and segregation against blacks during the 50’s and 60’s. The performances by the three leads; Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson and Janelle Monae were also well acted. Each of the characters they played had unique character tropes and motivations, which were well sought out. The chemistry between the leads was also very organic. Also from my own recollection, this is one of the only films that stars female african american leads, which is an achievement on its own.
Touching on the story a bit more, Hidden Figures does cover a lot of ground. I would say that the film places its emphasis more on the personality of Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji Henson. We get to see her childhood, her marriage and her kids too. I was afraid at first that all of these details regarding her personal life would disrupt the primary message of the film, but I stand corrected.
As iconic as this film is, it does have one major pitfall. I would say that this pitfall pertains to movies of this genre (biopics); separating fact from fiction. Towards the end of Hidden Figures, events are dramatized that may not have been that dramatic or theatrical in real life. This is done to sustain viewer interest. I will say this: filmmakers face a tradeoff when they make such decisions. On one hand, this may give audiences their dosage of drama to keep them invested in the characters but on the other hand such decisions put into question the historical accuracies of the film. For example, in this movie upon further researching the facts and fiction presented , I found out that many of the characters were made up. In addition, I discovered that one of the standout scenes in the movie (for me at least), which I thought to be true based on the way it was presented, ended up being fictional. Now, I don’t have a major problem with this and it doesn’t ruin my movie going experience, rather it is just some food for thought about filmmaking.
So in conclusion, I encourage my readers to go out and see this movie. It is well directed, well acted by the three leads and conveys very important landmarks in both civil rights and space travel in a warm hearted manner.