Hidden Figures

Another Oscar nominated film which is based on true events, it stars Taraji P Henson as Katherine Goble-Johnson, Octavia Spence as Dorothy Vaughan, Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson, Kevin Costner as Al Harrison, Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell, Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford, Glen Powell as John Glenn and Maherdhala Ali as Jim Johnson.

The film is set in 1961 at NASA research centre in Langley, Hampton, Virginia and follows 3 black women working their way up in NASA during Segregation but focus mainly on the rise of Katherine who is a Mathematical Genius, whilst based on True Events the 3 events it follows didn’t happen in 1961 and I don’t think happened at the same time as well (also in 1961 there was no Segregation at NASA) but this doesn’t ruin the film.

The NASA Space Task Force is pressured to get an American into Space after the Russia successfully achieve this so their head Al Harrison asks for a Mathematician and Katherine is assigned to his group to help with the maths to find the equations to help launch and land the rockets, Al is impressed with her work but wonders where she goes for 40 minutes a day and finds out she has to go half a mile to the other side of the campus to use the bathroom as there is no coloured bathrooms in the area she works, Al then goes and smashes the coloured bathroom sign as say “Here at NASA we all pee the same colour”. Katherine also persuades Al to include her in the meetings with top people to get the latest figures to help her plot the co-ordinations for the recovery zone, she then impresses them including the Pilot John Glenn with her maths which later means John won’t do the launch until Katherine has confirmed the maths. During this at a Church BBQ she meets an Army Officer Jim Johnson who accidentally insults her by showing scepticism at her abilities, he later apologises and they later get married.

Meanwhile Dorothy who is acting supervisor for the West Area Computing Unit tries to become a supervisor but is told NASA aren’t making Coloured people Supervisors and when she notices the New IBM Mainframe she starts to learn FORTRAN and starts training her staff at the West Area co-workers, she successfully starts the machine which had baffled the NASA workers that have been trying to do this, with this she get reassigned to the Mainframe and then eventually promoted to Supervisor and she brings her co-workers over to help program the machine.

Mary meanwhile has ambition to become an engineer whilst helping the other engineers look at solving issues the the metal sheeting on the landing pod for re-entry, she applies to join the Engineer program but is blocked due to an amendment that says she now has to have done an additional course that is only available at an all white school, she then petitions the court and persuades the Judge to allow her to attend which she does and passes the course and becomes an engineer.

This is a very enjoyable film and shows how much times has changed in last 50 years, it also shows we still have a long way to go. The cast as a whole was excellant and it deserves the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. I was surprised that Taraji didn’t get nominated for best actress but I stand by my view that Octavia deserves the best supporting actress Oscar but I can’t fault the cast at all as they sold me the story. I know the film has used it’s creative freedom to perhaps make it more interesting and combine the 3 girls stories into one. This is another must watch film and I put it above La La Land as second best film I’ve seen this year.


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