Movie Review: Hidden Figures 

By Ben Meyer '22

Hidden Figures was released on January 6, 2017. The movie is two hours long and based on a true story. Set during the time of racial and gender inequality, Hidden Figures gives insight into the untold story of three African American women and their importance in helping NASA achieve its goal to put a man into orbit. The name Hidden Figures has a double meaning. The first meaning refers to how the African-American women were hidden behind the scenes at NASA and called “Colored Computers.” The second meaning relates to the mathematical work they produced for NASA. The movie was nominated for many awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars in 2017. 

Hidden Figures was full of many important supporting characters, but the main three characters were Katherine G. Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan. Katherine Johnson was one of the major mathematicians in NASA, calculating the spacecraft’s orbit around Earth, its launching and landing coordinates. Mary Jackson was an American mathematician and the first African American female engineer to do aerospace engineering for NASA. Dorothy Vaughan was an American mathematician and computer programmer who helped run NASA’s first IBM processor and became the first African American supervisor at NASA. 

In addition, the movie shows the challenges that African Americans faced during segregation in the 1960s. For example, Dorothy Vaughan went to the library with her kids to look for a book about computer programming. This type of book was unavailable in the “colored section,” so she went looking for a book in the “white section.” Because of the time period and how everything was so segregated, she was kicked out of the library for breaking the rules. Another example of a challenge African Americans faced during the 1960s was the segregated bathrooms. Katherine Johnson was working a half a mile away from any “colored only” bathroom, so she had to carry her work all the way to a bathroom half a mile away and then come back. She could be gone for up to forty minutes per day. 

In conclusion, Hidden Figures was an incredible movie. It tells the untold story of three highly intelligent African American females who contributed to NASA in a major way and the challenges they faced as women and as African Americans.  Furthermore, this movie provides great insight into the NASA space program during the 1960s.  I highly recommend the film.