Three Negro women are chasing a white police officer down a highway in 1961. That is a God-ordained miracle.
Less than 5 minutes in and I found my favourite quote from the film Hidden Figures. Yes that’s write after my rant on Twitter about the film being released later in the UK I actually got round to watching it – and I am so glad that I did.
Hidden Figures is about three back women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson who worked at NASA and worked behind the scenes to get the first American man into Orbit. Whilst this may seem unremarkable, the time in which this is set in the 60s, there was a lot of racism and sexism around, as it was seen as the norm and these women had to deal with those attitudes not only in the workplace but in their personal lives too. Referring back to the above quote from the beginning of the film, the three are mending their car by the roadside and are approached by a police officer, Dorothy warns Mary in particular to remain quiet and polite.
What I enjoyed about the film that although Katherine Johnson played by Taraji P Henson is the main character, the two supporting characters Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are given their own storylines that are continued through the film.
Dorothy who is essentially covering the supervisor role, albeit without pay and status is continually denied this despite her pleas, rather than accept this she continues to fight and prove herself. At one point she is warned that her job is at risk due to a new machine, and she then decides to learn how to programme that machine so that she won’t be out of a job.
Similarly whilst this is happening we have Mary’s story in which she aspires to become an engineer, she herself faces much hardship that she is under qualified and the only place in which she can study doesn’t accept black students – here we really see her strength of character as she continues to fight and question why.
For me one of the most significant scenes although small is where Katherine is moved to another department she is immediately thought to be a custodian and a full bin is thrust into her hands – a sentiment of the times, why else would a back women be in a room full of intelligent white men?
This is a film you can watch again and again without getting bored, I’m not one to cry at films but I came pretty close to tears as the credits rolled. Naturally I like to read around and I found out that some events had been changed from the book which the film was adapted from, as such I fully intend to read the book at some point too.
But I must stress this film is one to watch – anyone reading this who hasn’t seen, lease go and watch!
As Taraji P Henson said: You are hidden figures no more, and I couldn’t agree more.
Added note – I watched Hidden Figures at the Savoy Cinema in Nottingham, I’d never been before and would highly recommend anyone in the East Midlands go, not only are the prices reasonable, it’s a great alternative to the big cinema chains, I will definitely be visiting it again in the future.