Published on January 6th, 2017 | by Don Guillory0
Teaching courses on history and the relevance of film capturing historical periods, people, and themes offers me a little greater perspective when watching historically based films. I think about how much I should criticize the film based on the ways that the truths are stretched in order to placate their audiences so that they don’t feel to uncomfortable with the subject matter. Hidden Figures offers up a chance to expose American audiences to a period and historical figures that helped impact American history and allow successful space flight.
Hidden Figures discusses the contributions of African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). The film is enlightening and allows for audiences to gain a greater understanding of women and women of color in ensuring the success of the American Space program. The film does not exaggerate circumstances to a point where it is difficult to believe. What is difficult to believe for audiences in using this film to look at the past is that we have waited so long to recognize and honor these heroes. Without their contributions, the United States may have never made it to the moon.
The film offers adults and youth audiences an honest look into what these women faced in the forms of racism and sexism. There is no brutality of racism or violence demonstrated, but the spectre of it lingers over the film and reminds the viewer of the hardships that these women faced. They had the minds to carry out their tasks, but they did not have the right gender or color to be taken seriously, at first. The film is empowering and allows for young girls, despite race, to see that science and math are not fields that are not limited to men. Appropriate representation allows for more depth to history and the role that people of different walks, faiths, and nationalities have played in society. Hidden Figures is a timely film that allows for greater representation and may push filmmakers and audiences to discover more hidden figures in history.