MOVIES: HIDDEN FIGURES

When is the last time you watched a movie that tinkled on the keys of your heart without jolting your moral chords? Here’s a ‘feel good’ movie worth your time.

This one will tug at the strings of your emotions and play a lovely melody about people.

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The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Watch the move, “Hidden Figures” starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.

Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African-American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labour shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black West Computing group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the space race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellects to change their own lives – and their country’s future.

Source: Goodreads

Our views
This is a movie that tells a story very well. It’s a story about the indomitable spirit that is the epitome of the USA, a spirit that never gives up, never admits defeat but instead looks to tomorrow positively and optimistically.

The news that Russia launched the first man into orbit shocked the United States. It angered the NASA engineers and executives and motivated President Kennedy to declare that USA would now become serious about the space race. “To the moon!” became America’s new battle cry.

Behind the scenes, the country was a loser in other ways, a label which the nation has been unable to shake no matter how much they shed crocodile tears and lament domestic social problems. No matter what they claim, the US is a country shackled by the mentality of racism, misogyny and violence. This movie trades the hammer of social criticism for the wand of a magical tale. However,

“Hidden Figures” is a movie which tells a story. It doesn’t lecture, doesn’t criticize, doesn’t judge. It simply tells a tale. A tale about how three young coloured girls with amazing skills in mathematics overcoming all obstacles and hurdles which inhibit their personal and professional development.

It’s a good story that describes how these three young girls worked in a world, a society and an environment which lined up all kinds of regulations and obstacles in their professional career paths.

You’re a racist if you aren’t moved in seeing how coloured perople were ostracized in American society. The caste system of India is not a higher card trumping American bigotry and racism of the era in which the movie is set. But prick the American spirit of competition and that nation rises to the stimulus. Russia got into space first. America responded by trouncing the Russians and Yuri Gagarin’s orbital flight with Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon.

Hidden Figures tells the behind the scenes story behind the space race. NASA lost the initial race. President Kennedy demanded action. The US space engineers had the manpower, well, the woman power. Three coloured women demonstrated phenomenal math skills, unexpected personal perseverance and unbridled courage, determination and motivation in putting the goals of the nation ahead of their own.

A bit of predictable manipulation
The movie is Hollywood as can be expected. There is audience manipulation where a villain with a misogynistic bent, a workplace that is racially bigotted and a work atmosphere dominated by men are balanced by three coloured women conquering all obstacles and becoming a vital part of America’s ultimate space race victory.

A very good movie, as a story, as a review of the history of our society.

Definitely worth the viewing time!

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