“Hidden Figures” is about the black women who made NASA’s missions to win the space race a success. This movie is a long overdue ode to those who fought through oppression to do the impossible.
The main plot of film follows the true story of Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson) as she rises through the ranks as one of NASA’s most skilled human “computers.” As explained through the film, the computing power needed to calculate much of NASA’s data did not exist technologically. Instead the institution relied on intelligent people who could quickly calculate large amounts of data known as computers.
In addition to Goble’s plight is the subplots of two colleagues and friends who face similar struggles. These characters, Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) are fellow African-American computers.
The opening scenes of the film do well at setting the tone for much of the movie. A white authority figure is unsure about how to act when discovering that three black women who he was prepared to harass are people helping the United States win the space race. This appears to create a conflict between his oppressive and nationalist intentions.
Henson’s portrayal of Goble’s struggles is wonderfully done. Several emotional scenes, in which Goble breaks her typically professional manner, mark her performance as ground breaking.
While Goble copes with her own challenges, Jackson and Vaughan face their own independent issues. Jackson finds herself being offered a possible engineer position but unable to obtain the needed education due to segregation laws. Meanwhile, Vaughan is working to receive the recognition and pay for the extra duties she performs as an acting supervisor of the computers.
The paths taken by all three women are all obviously laborious. Throughout “Hidden Figures” the audience is constantly reminded that even people who are geniuses cannot escape the chains of oppression. Additionally, the film doesn’t let viewers believe that the racism is “cured” at any point. At no point is full victory or respect achieved—only the beginning of long battle.
“Hidden Figures” is a must see for anyone seeking a film that delves into the raw truths about American history. This film exposes the dark truths of the country’s not-so-distant past, reflects on progress made and reminds audiences that there is still more work to be done.