By Maria Lubanovic, Contributor
There hasn’t been a better time for a movie that promotes progress in science and equality; Hidden Figures is based on the true story of three African-American women, Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who worked at NASA during the space race with Russia. Their work as a calculator, a computer programmer, and an engineer shaped NASA as well as paved the way for more African-Americans and women in science and engineering fields.
With a combination of humor and drama, the film conveys its message of perseverance in times of struggle through each of the women fighting back against the barriers put in front of them. From having requirements changed, to not being considered for certain positions and not even able to use the same bathrooms as other women, they must negotiate and make changes and endure. This seems like an important theme for many of the films that have come out this year. It was thrilling to see not only one, but three African American women as protagonists, as well as so many other POC as supporting actors and extras. We can only hope that there are more films to support this sort of casting in the future.
The film is beautifully done, with sets and lighting done to juxtapose the cold greyness of NASA and its policies with the warmth of home and family. The costuming also reflects this same theme, with the men at NASA wearing a uniform of crisp white shirts and thin ties, and the women wearing colorful dresses and shoes. Even the cars that they drive show this, as Katherine, Mary and Dorothy ride in an old turquoise car, and the other workers drive newer black or maroon models. The music is a brilliant collaborative effort between Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams, which provides a feeling of past meets present.
Because this is based on a true story, and because of the recent death of John Glenn, most people are already aware of what happened from a distance. Somehow, the story is still fresh and exciting, even suspenseful during the flight scenes, even though we already know the outcome. Hidden Figures brings us closer to the amazing women who made huge contributions to science and equality in the face of segregation and hatred. It’s a must see for anyone who loves true stories, or people who love space movies or even anyone who loves strong female protagonists.