Not that often do you see a film centering around a historical woman, let alone three, let alone African-American women, let alone the very women who sent the United States first man around the orbit of the Earth!
"Hidden Figures" is a 2016 biographical drama, based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterfly, telling the story of three best friends who worked on the NASA space program, and more specifically Project Mercury and later the Apollo II mission.
The story centers around brilliant mathematician and child prodigy, Katherine Johnson, fellow mathematician, Dorothy Vaughan and engineer-to-be, Mary Jackson as they worked toward sending the first man in orbit around the Earth.
What I liked most about this film was the various themes brought up in regards to race and sex. Throughout the film, segregation played a huge role. From the protesters with banners, to Johnson jogging 40 minute every day in high heels and piles of papers in her hand, just to use the “colored computer’s” restroom in a far off building. The term “computer” was given to the research mathematicians; Johnson is referred to as such throughout the film. Even when she worked alongside the men, after using the large coffee pot once, the next day a new, smaller and empty one labeled “colored coffee” was placed beside it. As a woman, she also faced issues of sexism in terms of hearings and rooms she was allowed in, even though hearing the information was crucial for her job. She was also a widow with three, young daughters, not to mention she was a slightly heavyset woman with glasses. Which is a nice change from casting cliché Hollywood beauties representing women in history.
Dorothy Vaugha faced an issue many people in the past and present, still face. As a hard worker, loyal employee, and with all the skills and workload of a Supervisor, she doesn't get the title of pay of one and yet is told to be grateful she even has a job.
Lastly, Mary Jackson worked as a mathematician, but had the mind of an engineer. Despite her bachelor’s in Mathematics and Physical Science, and claims by her she had the qualifications that many white, male engineers had as well, the rules had changed and she now needed a few more classes she had to take at a white high school, which she had to go to court for an appeal in order to attend.
“The film was educational, fun, and brought up major issues of the time. Yet, through both the actions of these women, and a few others, segregation lifted, it only a little bit.