Nine Things About the Movie 'Hidden Figures'
1. I saw this movie in the theaters. When it was over, the audience started applauding spontaneously.
2. This is a very unique movie that combines two extremely important issues - civil rights and math.
3. It's based on the true story of a group of black women that worked as computers in a segregated area of NASA during the space race in the 1960's.
[Fun fact: Since the 1600's, a computer was a human who could calculate complicated math problems quickly and accurately. It wasn't until the 1940's that machines began taking the name "computer"].
4. The movie focuses specifically on three women;
Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monae), who fought to become NASA's first black female engineer;
Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer), who was one of the first people at NASA to learn electronic computer programming, and was the first black woman to become head of personnel at NASA;
Katherine Goble Johnson (played by Taraji Henson), a mathematical genius who calculated trajectories, launch conditions, and return paths for American spacecraft - by hand.
5. One of the best parts of the movie is that it depicts the sexism and racism of the 1960's, but not in a very preachy way. It's more matter of fact. And I'm very glad to see more historical context for civil rights than only marches and protests.
6. About half of the movie is actually about the space program, and the importance of the math behind it. People that know math will enjoy seeing it actually discussed and used onscreen.
7. Like any "based on a true story" movie, the movie has a lot of historical inaccuracies, mostly so the story can be condensed and told in a short amount of time. But NASA employees say the movie is authentic to the spirit and times, and gets the main points right. Dr. Johnson - who, at the time of this writing is still alive at the age of 98 - gave her approval to the movie.
8. The movie is so well crafted and paced that even people that know how the space race happened, and know what happened to John Glenn's first flight into space, will still get caught up in how it all plays out.
9. Movies that are educational are usually interesting, but not entertaining. Movies that are entertaining are not usually educational. Here is a rare example of a movie that is both. It is fun, and it is important.