Why Everyone Should See Hidden Figures

“This is the movie we need right now.”

These are the words that are often uttered when an inspiring and uplifting film gets released during troubling times. The one film so far this year that more than lives up to this phrase is Hidden Figures.

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Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a mathematician who calculated trajectories for multiple space missions and, in 1961, verified the calculations for John Glenn’s historic orbit around the Earth. The film also tells the stories of Johnson’s friends, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), a mathematician, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), an aspiring engineer.

One of the things I loved about this movie is that it is not your typical biopic. When I go to see a biographical film, I have grown to expect a serious, conflict-ridden drama.  Although there is generally nothing wrong with this, and most often works to the film’s advantage, Hidden Figures offers a refreshing change of pace. While the film does present its fair share of conflict and drama, it is also, surprisingly, very funny and light-hearted. As a history major, I don’t mind biopics and documentaries that are out solely to educate. But, it is nice to know that, when you go see this movie, you will learn something new and have fun at the same time.

While the entertainment factor is important, the most important thing to me about this film is the message it sends. Hidden Figures is much more than a behind the scenes glimpse into how NASA made John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth. Hidden Figures is about hope, rising up against adversity, and proving that there is always strength in numbers. Katherine Johnson may be the primary protagonist, but Vaughan and Jackson are not figures to ignore. They all have something that they are working towards: Johnson for respect from her all-male colleagues, Vaughan to receive the promotion for the job she has already been doing, and Jackson to fulfil her dream of becoming an engineer. All three women provide each other with the advice and strength they need to achieve their goals. And, while they had much to (rightfully) complain about, they didn’t dwell on the negative.  They always remembered what they were fighting for and worked together to find solutions to their problems.

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In a world were so many currently feel hopeless and afraid, this is exactly the movie we need to lift us up. This story is proof that, no matter your race, gender, or any other defining characteristic, you can make your dreams come true. If we work together towards a common goal, and keep the positivity and hope alive, we will come to find that we can push every obstacle out of our way and change the world.