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Movie Review: Hidden Figures

Hailey Wilt | hwilt@radford.edu

A fragment of space entered Radford’s orbit with the showing of Hidden Figures at the Bonnie Auditorium this past weekend. The 2016 hit film, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe hit theatres to rave reviews late last year with its Dec. 25 release. The film follows the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who helped NASA during the early years of the U.S. Space Program. Grossing more than $230 million all over the world, it was yet another impressive movie from 20th Century Fox. The film received three Oscar Nominations, two Golden Globes, and then it was chosen by the National Board of Reviews as one of the best films of the year.

The plot follows lead character Katherine Johnson, who is often labeled as a ‘human computer’, who is pushed toward the Space Task Group due to her skills with math and geometry. Her friend Mary Jackson is an engineer, and Dorothy Vaughan is an inspiring NASA supervisor. Shortly after the highly successful satellite launch by the Soviet Union, the pressure was on the United States to follow suit. Taking place in the 1960’s this was still during a time where almost everything was segregated between races which lead to high tensions when the ladies were asked to join the task force. Head engineer Paul Stafford becomes the main character we see being rude to the women due to their race.

Shortly after the first portion of the film, we see Mary being assigned to handle the heat shields for the space capsules, in which she quickly finds a large flaw in them. All three females contribute to the space program in colossal ways but still were discouraged due to their race. Towards the end of the picture, we see the women and their accomplishments throughout the duration of their lives. Katherine calculated the trajectories for Apollo 11 as well as several other space missions. Mary got her degree in manufacturing and went back to NASA as an engineer, while Dorothy went on to still supervise the Programming Department.

While the film revolves around three very real ladies and their real-life accomplishments they did create the character, Paul Stafford, to depict the kind of people they had to deal with. Movies take creative licensing to produce the drama and the art of the stories. IMDB gave the film a 7.8/10 rating, while Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 92% which as far as reviews from critics go, is quite good.

With a run time of 127 minutes and a rating of PG the drama was received well by all audiences and did a great job depicting the 1960’s for what they were. In a quote from Rotten Tomatoes, the Critic Consensus said, “In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked — and crucial — contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.” Which is exactly what it did. Overall, the film was a refreshing change to R-SPaCE’s usual lineup of films and was a movie that intrigued the audience so much so that people applauded after it was over. 4/5.

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