Hidden Figures – It’s not just rockets that get to the moon. No, you need men! Men build, men fly, men plot their intricate ways!
That’s what was thought in 1961, when America’s Mercury space program was just getting started.
Yes, inside NASA’s brain trust at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, there are many people other than men. And when a car carrying three NASA employees breaks down on the side of the road – black female employees – they get a Virginia police officer to stop to help them.
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“There are very few women in the space program,” said Dorothy Vaughan, giving her the still-covered perfume.
But while NASA appears to be building a new future to power rockets, it still has its nuts and bolts operations in 1961. products. Langley is still in a southern union state. Dorothy and her black friends, Mary Jackson and Katherine Goble, work at Langley’s West Campus, where “colored people” are kept. They and others are doing important work: their computers before the computer age, the women who do the math and the math skills are very important in the future of the space program. However, these computers are set apart from others. They have bathrooms, they have cafeterias, they have coffee machines. The merger seems no more a part of NASA’s future than Virginia.
But sometimes talent and determination can make your own future. America’s new space program, locked in a war with the United States that it is certain to lose, could use all the smart minds it could find. And some of those minds may be working their way out of Western University using restrooms marked “Women of Color Only.”
Deals with similar issues. But these women, whose characters as shown here are based on three real employees of NASA, are not picking up guns and marching in protest. Instead, they fight the status quo
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Perhaps the greatest story of Catherine. Because of his great talent for mathematics, he was called to work at Langley’s beautiful nerve center. But even though he can outrun most (if not all) of the men on this team of NASA experts, he still runs the half mile to West Campus to use the selected bathroom and made a marked cup of coffee. “Shake the color”.
However, when he works in these situations with grace and spirit, things begin to change. People see his work and are amazed. He presses for recognition and slowly begins to find it. It’s interesting to know that the real Katherine – still alive and, incidentally, at 98 – was an important part of NASA until her retirement in 1986, working on everything from the Apollo program to the space shuttle. A building in Langley, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, was named in her honor last year.
There are others who are helping these women. Al Harrison, the head of the group that plans how to take the Mercury astronauts into space, seems almost to ignore the race. His only concern is getting the best minds to work on a common problem. After realizing that Katherine had to run between conferences just to use the bathroom, she connected the bathrooms by breaking the “color” sign with the cooler.
Elsewhere, scientist Karl Zielinski encourages Maria to pursue an engineering degree. When Maria objected that she was a “negro woman,” she replied, “I am a Polish Jew whose parents died in a Nazi prison. I think we can say that we are living in the impossible.
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John Glenn, one of the Mercury astronauts, tried to meet and thank Katherine, Mary, Dorothy and other small “computers” for their work. And if an automated computer spits out conflicting information before launch, Glenn says Katherine will verify those numbers—trust him and he’s the only one to provide the correct numbers. “It’s a little hard to trust someone you can’t see eye to eye,” he said.
We should also note that Dorothy and Katherine were also parents, with Katherine raising three children on her own after her husband died. It is clear that they both care deeply about their children, even if they are not home as often as they would like.
For the three women at the center of this story, Christianity is about something. All three of them are in the same church, and the Pastor praises their work from the pulpit. Katherine and her family do a blessing before dinner. And when she tells her children she misses their father “as much as anyone,” they say they know he’s “with the angels.”
Good news is sometimes honored by quick praise to the Almighty. For example, when Mary got a plumber’s job, she took the job sheet and said, “Thank you, Jesus!” When a policeman offered to go to work, Maria happily agreed. The fact that three black women are “raising” a police force in rural Virginia is a “God-ordained miracle,” he said.
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When encouraged by Mr. Harrison the scientists under his leadership to rededicate themselves, he said, “We have it.
Widowed Katherine catches the attention of candidate Colonel Jim Johnson. The two began to have dinner together at Catherine’s house. One night, while they were washing the dishes, Jim announced that it was time for them to kiss. They do it with enthusiasm. Later, at another family dinner, Jim proposed. We learn from the script of the film that they have been married for 56 years.
Maria is also married and she and her husband are kissing (Maria protests to her husband Levi that he will be late for class if he is not careful). That doesn’t stop him from staring at the Mercury astronauts when they visit Langley. “How do you see these white men?” Katherine scolds. Maria told him she had every right to watch.
We see old footage of rockets exploding and hear reports of a bomb being thrown on the freedom bus. Something goes wrong during a very important mission, and there is a fear that the statue cabinet will burn on the return.
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Al Harrison violently rips off the bathroom sign and knocks it down. During the test, heat shields fly out of an open space case and fall through an unbreakable window.
About 15 uses of “d-n”. The “H—” is mentioned about half a dozen times, and the names of God and Jesus are reviled – the last name – as one.
Dorothy, Mary and Katherine spend an afternoon at Dorothy’s house and Dorothy makes some kind of alcoholic drink. Maria said she could drink well; he likes it a lot. He said he was feeling happy as always, and Dorothy replied, “How are you
Dorothy goes to the library to check out a book or two about computer programming – “the future” as she says. But when he shows up, he’s told the book isn’t in “his” section (meaning, of course, books for black people). But later on the bus (where, of course, he and the two children with him are sitting in the back), he pulls out a book that looks like he took it from the library without and checking. When his son called him, he said, “Son, I pay my taxes. And pay fees for everything in that library. You can’t take what you’ve already paid for.”
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We see Katherine’s ankles and skirt under the bathtub as she works there. When Al ripped off the bathroom sign, he said, “Here at NASA, we all stick to the same color.”
It’s a vigorous exercise in narcissistic movements. The women here ignore the racism that colors their lives. But they do not fight with violence or resistance, but with skill and persistence. Yes, they are asking for the rights that are right for them. But they do it with a sense of grace, humility and patience. They don’t trust the system. However, they are willing to work hard to achieve their goals. And they change a lot along the way.
One afternoon, Dorothy ran into her boss, Mrs. Mitchell, each other in the bathroom, a meeting that would have been impossible until Al Harrison broke the signal.
“I know,” said Dorothy with a soft smile. “I know you probably believe that.” Then he left.
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Perhaps this is a moment of self-awareness. Because when the two met again, Mrs. Mitchell gives her a new assignment: the delayed promotion that Dorothy struggles with throughout the film.
, is more important than the ad itself. It is a measure of the new equality obtained. And in a way, for all its eccentricities, it feels like the film’s greatest moment of triumph.
Motivating because it’s entertaining. It recognizes racial divisions and emphasizes that there is more than one way to improve them. And though he may be hateful, he has a good heart.
Paul Asay has been a member of the Plugged In staff since 2007 and has watched and reviewed approximately 15 quintillion movies and TV shows. He has also written for many other publications, including Time, The Washington Post, and The Christian.
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