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For Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), aiming for the stars wasn’t a far-off idea. As part of the few African-American female scientists at NASA in the 1960s, their hard work and dedication to their respective scientific fields led them to help the first American man orbit the moon.

Unfortunately, equations and mathematical proofs weren’t the only problems that the ladies had to solve in order to reach their goals. Hurdles of race and discrimination followed them throughout 1960s America, along with the societal notion that women weren’t meant for roles in STEM (Science, Technology, and Engineering, and Mathematics). Katherine Johnson was given a separate coffee pot with a label titled “colored”, Dorothy Vaughn was underpaid for the supervising work she was doing, and Mary Jackson had to file a case to take classes at an all-white high school in order to apply for an engineering job at NASA. The plot of the film Hidden Figures follows the three women as they work towards achieving their goals and succeeding in an industry plagued by sexism and cultural norms.

As an aspiring woman in technology who codes and wishes to become an entrepreneur, I was deeply moved by Hidden Figures. The film exposed its audience to the gender-based and race-based discrimination in fields of STEM that not many are aware of. Movies such as Hidden Figures, which are based on true events, tell tales of people who broke glass ceilings and challenged others’ ways of thinking for the better. Because of the contributions of the protagonists in the film, women today can feel more liberated and open to the prospects of working in engineering or mathematics.

The fact that the movie was based on true events made the accomplishments of each of the protagonists even more awe-inspiring. When each of the women garnered a feat or broke a barrier, I couldn’t help but cheer them on. The movie itself doesn’t sugarcoat the long nights and grit needed to hustle in a field such as STEM, and encourages its audience to respect the research work of scientists everywhere.

Aside from the main characters, their family members played key roles in cheering them on and pushing them to pursue their dreams. Family-centric scenes in the movie had me tear up and laugh at times. The innocence of the daughters of Katherine Johnson coupled with Katherine’s desire to teach them to be anything that they want to be taught an important lesson in a heart-warming scene.

Furthermore, the dialogue in Hidden Figures was equal parts witty and exciting, as the three women took the negativity thrown at them and turned it into a challenge. When they were told that they couldn’t be or do certain things, they set their minds towards it. And for that, I greatly admire strong women present in the film.

Out of all the excellent components of the movie Hidden Figures, my favorite would be the message that it sends to young girls everywhere. By seeing women onscreen standing up for their rights and beliefs, it embodies feminism, or the notion that all genders are equal. Overall, the film serves as a prime example of how women can change the world, one equation and one problem at a time.

 

Points that I liked:

-female empowerment

-stellar acting

-heartwarming dialogue

-inspiring characters

 

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Photo credit: susangranger.com

This review was originally published in the Manila Bulletin Funpage. 

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