Watch Hidden Figures
- 2 hr 7 min
Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. It is loosely based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about African American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and Apollo 11 among others. Octavia Spencer co-stars as NASA supervisor Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson, an engineer who petitioned in court to be allowed to take classes that were offered only to white students.
Set in 1961, the film follows these three African American women as they face challenges of racism and sexism while working as "human computers" at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia during the early years of the American space program. Despite their integral role, the African American women were segregated from their white female counterparts and denied access to meeting rooms and other facilities. The film depicts their struggles to gain equal treatment and respect for their intellectual contributions.
Katherine Johnson faces scrutiny from her white colleagues but proves her exceptional mathematical abilities by successfully calculating launch windows and emergency return paths for space missions. Mary Jackson petitions the court to allow her to take the engineering courses required for promotions that are not offered to black students at the local high school. Dorothy Vaughan teaches herself and her West Computing Unit colleagues the new programming language of FORTRAN so they can keep their jobs when NASA begins to phase out human computers.
The film culminates with John Glenn personally asking for Katherine Johnson to verify the computer calculations for his orbit around the Earth. He tells mission control that he will not fly unless "the girl" checks the math. The successful mission and the eventual desegregation of NASA facilities mark a triumph for the three women and others making strides during the Civil Rights era.
With powerful performances by its leading actresses, Hidden Figures sheds light on the overlooked stories of the African American women who were invaluable to NASA's success but not given credit for decades. Their skills as mathematicians and engineers along with their resilience in fighting inequality are finally brought to the forefront. Directed by Theodore Melfi and nominated for several awards, the film Hidden Figures reveals a fascinating and little-known chapter in the history of space exploration and the long battle for civil rights in America.
Hidden Figures is a 2017 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 7 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8 and a MetaScore of 74.