The movie Hidden Figures celebrates the true stories of a visionary trio, who challenged the gender and race stereotypes in the field of aeronautics.
The award winning film, Hidden Figures is a movie based on true events, telling the story of three black, female mathematicians who served as the brains behind one of the greatest NASA space operations in history to launch an astronaut into orbit.
If the lockdown has left you feeling demotivated and without purpose, then this movie is definitely for you.
Set in the 1960s in Hampton Virginia, in the United States, the trio crossed all gender and race barriers to dream big and beyond anything ever achieved before by the human race at the time.
Although the film was released in 2016, it is now available on Netflix. Directed by Theodore Melfi and co-written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, the drama film has been nominated for three Oscars, two Golden Globes, and has won two BET awards, to name a few.
Hidden Figures should appeal to individuals with an interest in history, inventions by people of colour, and the goal-orientated.
The film has various lessons on resilience and perseverance, qualities that an individual should possess as they climb up the ladder to success. The central message of this film is that you should never give up on your dreams, regardless of the hurdles you encounter along the way.
As a young black woman, the movie inspires me to shoot for the stars . It stimulates me to imagine a world where I can achieve anything and everything I put my mind and heart into.
Of the black women at the centre of the film, Katherine Johnson, was the only one still living at the time of its release. She died at age 101, on February, 24 2020.
The movie begins with a brief prologue, introducing a young black girl who is a maths prodigy, in 1926. We then meet the girl again 35 years later, alongside two other mathematics geniuses; Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe).
Before the word “computer” was referred to a machine, it was a job description for people (usually women), who were tasked with an assignment to complete intense mathematical calculations during the NASA space programme .
The women charted a course to crunch the numbers that successfully launched astronaut John Glenn into orbit and safely landed him back during the space race competition between the US and Russia.
Hidden Figures tells the untold true story of the three women who started their careers in sciences despite facing racial and gender-based discrimination, at home, at school and at work.
This is evident when Katherine, who was an analytical geometry expert and the first black female in the building, was assumed to be a housekeeper when she first reported for work.
Mary was faced with racist bureaucratic obstacles in her quest to become an engineer, and Dorothy, who led the coloured (referral for black) group of ‘computers’, was fighting a long-overdue promotion.
History is also framed with visuals of how Africans and whites had access to different services and facilities; racialised schools and libraries, and operated in separate working buildings and designated bathrooms.
I was impressed when Johnson demanded to attend an all-men conference, to assist the male experts (who were struggling) to do the calculations that will safely launch the astronaut into orbit. In the words of Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, Johnson “took up space” and cemented herself in spaces she was repetitively told she didn’t belong.
A crucial takeaway from the movie is that, although the female characters were aware of their perceived value in contrast to their male counterparts, it didn’t hinder their willpower to dream big. It depicts a historical time where women were able to infiltrate a field predominantly white and male.
Hidden Figures seeks to offer fair and inclusive representation, where there is a diversity of female leaders on screen. It also firmly cements the women’s work in the history books as true American heroes, a reality that is often overlooked and not widely shared.
Vuvu rating: 8/10
FEATURES IMAGE: The cover of the film Hidden Figures. Photo: Imdb.com
- Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: Noughts and Crosses – tackling racism, class and identity, May 2020