Hidden Figures Movie Review

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Hidden Figures should be titled Hidden History! I was dumbfounded when I saw the trailer for this film because I had never… ever heard of these women and the integral role they played in helping the United States get its space program off the ground.  Hidden Figures tells the true story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, who were African American women who worked for NASA in the 60s and following decades as human computers! These women were mathematical geniuses that were recruited by NASA to compute orbital trajectories and calculations for spaceships! It’s refreshing to learn that one of our most highly respected government agencies recruited people based on their knowledge and skills rather than the color of their skin.  Now segregation still existed in the halls of NASA, which is a plot point of the movie, but just knowing that African American women were recruited because of their brains to work on our greatest frontier is mind blowing! Hidden Figures gives an account of how Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson impacted our space program at NASA despite being black and women during the era of segregation.  Although the film takes some creative liberties with some of the characters (Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons’s) characters especially, the tasks that the women took on were real!

Katherine Johnson did the mathematical calculations for Alan Shepherd first launch into space and John Glenn! As a matter of fact, John Glenn personally requested that Katherine Johnson double check the calculations for his orbital reentry before he gave the all clear that he would go! Amazing! How did we not learn about this in school?! 

Our nation is filled with heroic figures from all racial and gender groups who have helped build our great nation, it is too bad that these figures are rarely addressed in our U.S. History curriculums.  I truly believe that if people could learn about the contributions that all people of our nation have made, it would be difficult for people to justify their stereotypes and biases against other groups. 

Hidden Figures is a great movie that showcases that behind every great feat and accomplishment there are people behind the scenes that make it all happen.  There are many people out there that would scoff at the notion that this was even possible, or that blacks would not have had the intellectual ability to carry out such a task. Hidden Figures addresses this and highlights that all people have contributed to making the United States great.   We just don’t learn about it! 

This movie doesn’t brow beat you or make white people feel guilty.  This is a tale of heroes, who stand against all odds.  The film is serious, but not too serious.  It has a number of funny and lighthearted moments throughout the film.  My theater was packed with a mixed crowd, and when the movie ended there was applause. 

Go see this film!

Grade: A


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