Oscar Noms. Hidden Figures Review. A women’s empowerment story.

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“I can’t change the color of my skin so I have no choice but to be the first”

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By Sandra M. Ríos U. (@sandritamrios)

Another singular story based on real facts that has been nominated at Oscars in the category of Best Feature Film of the Year is Hidden Figures, the story of a group of black women who made great contributions in the space race against The Soviet Union.

Margot Lee Shetterly debuted on non-fiction literature with this book as recently as last year. The story has so many singular details that it was sold its rights for movie adaptation without ever having finished her writing.

The center of the story is Katherine G. Johnson, a mathematician and scientific of space program who worked at NASA during 30 years in times this agency was recruiting its interdisciplinary team to put the first man into the space. This African-American woman could solve and make the precise calculations to become John Gleen (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016) in the first man to orbit the Earth, circling it three times. Besides that, she made the calculations for the first manned flight (the Mercury Program) which Alan Shepard made history, days after Russian Yuri Gagarin was the first human to journey into outer space. Then, she also collaborated in other big projects like Apollo 11 and 13, among others.

But all her work and the one of other black women had remained hidden because those happened during fifties and sixties in the middle of evident racial hostilities. All these racial segregation is the apparent key of this feature film to make Johnson’s story bigger, but cinema has already showed us (even with more sharpness) how they had public exclusive bathrooms, how buses reserved some seats in the back part, the schools just for black children or the unauthorized access to certain universities.

Hidden Figures is a story about women empowerment, this is clear when  we see a good part of its scenes that have been manipulated to cause all the impact this movie has had with audience. Part of this “manipulation” is represented in the two characters that were made-up to serve to this purpose; characters played by Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons, both performing the white man who is repressive and doesn’t accept a black figure even less if the one is a woman. An old cliché!

Feature film has preferred an easy way, leaving the rejection of black women in a superficial layers, when the real potential was in the determination, obstinacy and all those very little details they done in their daily life without realizing they were steps that contributed with the law of civil rights few years later. In fact, when you read some interviews to Goble (who will be 99 this year), you can notice that more than an emotional story she has focused on the fascinating experience of working at NASA and the vibrant moments to get launch man into space in the middle of the Cold War. So, Hidden Figures has bed to be an emotional drama with effective entertainment.

Three women are played by Taraji P. Henson (Katherine), one of her best performances ever; Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) and Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson), who made a great job together. It is their charisma everything in this movie.

Hidden Figures avoids to take a risky and clear position about racial discrimination and women’s empowerment. The singular and real facts have been showed as anecdotal circumstances, which, between the emotional and funny details of its narrative, we have only a touching film.

Hidden Figures is nominated at Oscar Awards in the categories Best Feature Film, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Cast & Crew

  • Director: Theodore Melfi
  • Genre: Drama, biopic
  • Running Time: 127 minutos
  • Casting: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali
  • Music: Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch
  • Edition: Peter Teschner
  • Cinematography: Mandy Walker
  • Country: United States
  • Year: 2016

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