Hidden Figures

I finally went to see Hidden Figures this Wednesday, and it did not disappoint.

The trailer had me hooked, and then I heard glowing review after glowing review from so many people I knew.

Hidden Figures has got the perfect ingredients:

  • a brilliant cast
  • based on true events
  • an inspiring, inspirational story
  • an interesting context - two, in fact. 1960s America in terms of segregation, and 1960s America in terms of the space race
  • great characters
  • some real heartwarming moments.

Hidden Figures tells the story of three African American women who played pivotal roles at NASA during the space program's early beginnings, but whom few people have heard of. Mathematicians, at the beginning of the film the women are 'computers', tucked away in a separate building, and the film tells of their rise through the ranks to fulfill their true potential, despite obstacles that could have held them back.

Set against the backdrop of the American civil rights movement, the film perfectly presented the reality in which these women were living, and reminded of the entrenched segregation of a period still within the lifetime of many of those viewing this film. One of the most brilliant moments of the film, in my opinion, is when Kirsten Dunst's character tells Dorothy 'I don't hate y'all'. Dorothy turns, with a smile, and says 'I know you think you don't.' 

Which moves me on to the three women playing the titular 'hidden figures', Dorothy (Octavia Spencer), Katherine (Taraj P. Henson) and Mary (Janelle Monae). As a trio, they steal the film instantly, with the car scene and the later scenes at a playful garden picnic outside their church. As individuals, each had a strong story and character, and each was celebrated in their rightful way.  thought all three were cast perfectly, and thought each story was well told.

Kevin Costner was another standout in this film, as Al Harrison. His character was both intimidating and accomplished, yet he was arguably one of the first to open his eyes to the fact Katherine was needed and valuable to his team. I particularly enjoyed his dealing with the toilet situation, which I won't go into here in case anyone hasn't seen it yet...

Alongside all of this, I found the space race context fascinating, and particularly the role of maths and geometry. As my dad said on our way out, you could see the appeal of being a mathematician (we both studied English Literature at uni!) when it's applied in ways like that. Seeing inside the workings of early NASA and the space race was so interesting, and I do find the whole idea of space travel captivating. The idea of this being the world and the context that brought together these characters who in the world outside of NASA were not treated as equals really added to the whole feel of the film.

Overall, it was easily one of my favourite films I've seen for a long time. There were laugh out loud moments, tender moments, outrageous moments and yes, I shed a few tears.

I left the cinema feeling inspired, and full of the stories I had just seen play out in front of me. 

Definitely a film I'll be seeing again.


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