I try to limit my book and film reviews here to those that deal with nature or environmental issues with the occasional review of media on other sciences (otherwise this blog would overflow with reviews). I'm stretching my definitions a little by reviewing Hidden Figures, but it's such a great film I can't not review it!
Hidden Figures is based on the real life stories of three amazing black women who worked as mathematicians in NASA in the 1960s, starting off in the 'coloured computers' section of the agency and working their way up to more specialised and responsible roles - Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P Henson) to become (after much fighting) a supervisor leading the 'coloured computers' to become the programmers for the first IBM computers installed at NASA, Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) to become the key mathematician who enabled the first manned spaceflight to go ahead safely and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) to (after much fighting) become the first black woman to attend a local college to get the qualifications to become the first black American to become a NASA engineer.
The film follows their participation in the work that helped to get the first USA astronauts into space. It shows the everyday double discrimination that they faced as black women (from thinly veiled insults to separate 'coloured coffee pots' and of course the notorious 'coloured toilets') and how they worked to both overcome and overturn some of these.
The film is also a fascinating insight into the advancement of space technology and how the thought of the Russians getting an astronaut on the moon first was a huge spur to the American efforts. Above all it is a brilliantly dramatic, totally inspiring film with a great sense of humour.
You know when there was all the fuss about the Oscar for Best Film, with the wrong envelope been handed to the compere and La La Land incorrectly being hailed as winner instead of Moonlight? I think there must have been a second lost envelope somewhere, one that had Hidden Figures written in it.