Movie Review – Hidden Figures


Here is my review of the movie I went to see earlier in the week – Tuesday…..better late than never, right?

WARNING – I wouldn’t call what I write here “spoilers”, technically……it is all a matter of public historical information, but if you really don’t know anything about the space program from personal memories or never learned about this piece of history in school, you might want to wait and come back to read this AFTER you’ve seen the movie……and, by the way, get your head out of the sand, while you’re at it!!!

I saw Hidden Figures – the true story of the African American women who worked at NASA Langley in the early days of the space program. The story focuses mainly on three main characters who were mathematicians working as computers (note I said “as”, not “on”) and played vital roles in the success of the program. The main characters were:

  • Dorothy Vaughan, played by the amazing Octavia Spencer, who served in a supervisory role for a team of African American women who ran calculations and verified data. She played a major role in implementing the first IBM mainframe computers in the NASA program and went on to train and lead a team of programmers.
  • Mary Jackson, who was nicely portrayed by Janelle Monae, who started in the computing department, but was reassigned to the engineering group. She successfully fought for the right to take classes in an all white school so that she could fulfill her dream of becoming an engineer after her work helped solve a major flaw that would have destroyed the capsules on reentry.
  • And, the main focus was on Katherine Johnson, played brilliantly by Taraji P. Hensen. Katherine played an invaluable role in calculating the trajectories and reentry protocols for John Glenn’s first flight and got him home safely at the precise recovery point.

Other characters of importance were Al Harrison, a Director at NASA that Katherine worked with (I understand that this character is actually a composite character based on three actual directors that Katherine worked with during her time at NASA). Al Harrison was portrayed by the incomparable Kevin Costner and he did an amazing job of bringing this character to life. Also of note was Paul Stafford, played by Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory fame, a fictional character representing the prejudice the women had to endure during their time at NASA……the guy you definitely love to hate in the movie!!!

While there was some creative differences between the movie and the true story (click here for an article that talks about this), it stuck as true to real life as a two hour movie possibly can. It was a very moving and interesting story and pays tribute to these amazing women…..the unsung heroes behind the scenes in the early space program. Google them and learn more about their incredible lives and achievements.

I really enjoyed this movie and highly recommend it. It brought my strong sense of pride in our country and our history to the surface! I fell in love with the characters, I laughed a little, I cried a little, and I left feeling good…….so, yes, I am rating this one a 5 out of 5 with a huge two thumbs up!!! God Bless these women, God Bless our American Heroes of the NASA Space Program, God Bless others who worked behind the scenes to make it all happen, and God Bless America!

Here is a video of an interview with the author of the book the movie is based on:

And……here is the movie trailer:

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