The amazing story of three NASA computers in the 1960s hit theaters this past December and has since become a box office hit. “Hidden Figures” chronicles the involvement of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson in the mission to send an American man to space. The film greatly displays the struggles that these women faced inside and outside the office, as they dealt with race and gender discrimination at work, while raising families. Writer Margot Lee Shetterly and Director Theodore Melfi do an excellent job at highlighting the gravity of the women’s involvement in the NASA mission while showing the impact that their race and gender had on their careers.
What I liked most about the movie was that it told multiple stories. There were stories of three gifted mathematicians without whom Americans may have never gone to space, and stories of Black women trying to get by in the 1960s. A story about a woman trying to become NASA’s first female engineer, and a story about a widow finding love again. What this dual plot does is provide an engrossing and realistic sequence of events that pulls you into the movie and makes you feel every moment of excitement, disappointment, struggle and suspense. That and the vast array of both sympathetic and antagonizing supporting characters makes for a wild ride.
What really makes “Hidden Figures” great is how it effortlessly transitions between a story about civil rights, social progress and personal lives to a story about Americans working . together to send a man into outer space, and at moments, it merges the two stories together. From Mary Jackson making her case to a judge on why she should be allowed to take engineering classes, to John Glenn making it to space, to the subplot of Katherine Johnson falling in love while raising her children, “Hidden Figures” leaves no leaf unturned and no story untold.
It goes without saying that this movie is long past due. However, now is better than never to give credit where credit is due. Even with that in mind, I was left wondering how many women there are like Johnson, Vaughn and Jackson that I don’t know about. Hopefully, “Hidden Figures” will open the door for more movies like it, and more stories about amazing women and minorities will become common knowledge. If not, it will still remain a cinematic masterpiece that tells an important story.