Monday, February 13, 2017

Hidden Figures

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, 
Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst,
Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali

"Meet the Women you Don't know,
behind the Mission you Do."

If it wasn't for this truly inspirational movie, we would not have known about these brilliant women who not only were instrumental in sending the first American astronaut to orbit around Earth but also laid the ground work to the numerous successful space missions for NASA.

This is the true story of three pioneering African American women who were part of the 'human computers' pool in the 1960s during the early stages of the space agency. A period of racial segregation amidst the fierce space program race between the US and the USSR, they proved that anything was possible despite the challenges (racism, gender inequality) they faced not only at work, in school but also in their own community. 

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson are very good role models not only for African Americans but for the human race. Geniuses who were skilled in mathematical calculations, deciphering the IBM computer code, achieving feats in engineering  - they represent the triumph of the human spirit.

The elaborate set design is reminiscent of the 1960s from the wardrobe, the cars, the NASA office complex to the music through the collaborative efforts of Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer.  The nicely compiled bounchy soundtrack gave the film its light and glossy tone.  

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae thoroughly took center stage with the credible depiction of their multi-dimensional real life characters. They were funny and lively when happiness abound and also disappointed, sad and crestfallen when faced with adversities. Great performances.

I do have misgivings about how the 'white characters' were portrayed as being racists and misogynists. So while it is good to celebrate and recognize the efforts of these 'human computers' and their contribution to the space program, doing it at the expense of the other equally qualified employees who just happen to be white and portrayed as 'villains' is not fair, at all.

So although, these hidden figures were 'unmasked' and their long overdue story is well narrated through this movie, I believe NASA owes its success to the collective efforts of  all these hard-working people, regardless of their position, race and gender.

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