Film of the Day: Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures
Taraji P Henson prepares to wipe the floor with a calculation that has been bugging scientists for weeks. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Director Theodore Melfi’s Oscar-nominated drama is based on the true story of three extraordinary women, whose mathematical genius and engineering skills made them vital during the space race at NASA. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are working as number crunchers, or human calculators for NASA.

The USSR is achieving daily firsts and never-ending success, from Sputnik to Yuri Gagarin being sent into space, at this rate, America is far behind. With complex launch trajectories and mechanical setbacks with rockets and capsules, NASA needs a breakthrough urgently.

Katherine, Mary and Dorothy are instrumental in solving these headaches, but in order to even be considered, they are due for a long fight against sexism and racism against every step they take. It is the 1960s, and three black women are not the go-to for NASA’s management – in fact they are deliberately sidelined, despite knowing they have the power to reach for the moon.

127 mins

Hidden Figures – Thursday at 6.30pm on Film4

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