Saturday, 4 March 2017

Hidden Figures

Sorry it's been a few weeks since last posting. I saw Rings & The Founder both of which were pretty uninteresting and the suffering of daily existence has been worse than usual recently.

Katherine G. Johnson with the cast of Hidden Figures
The three title characters are Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) & Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) and the film is the story of their lives & work at NASA in the early 60s as Black women, against the backdrop of segregation-era Virginia. It's a story that needed to be told - we all likely know some of the white men of that era, but these women and their contributions had been left uncelebrated till now.

While a wartime Executive Order had made discrimination in the defence industry illegal, a combination of racism & misogyny meant Black women had few opportunities for advancement. Vaughan was working as a supervisor, but without the commensurate pay. Jackson wasn't an engineer because every time she qualified for the program, the requirements shifted. And Johnson repeatedly has her work claimed by Paul "computers don't author reports" Stafford (Jim Parsons, who makes a habit of playing characters that need to be stuffed in a locker).

Although there are of course liberties taken in this retelling, I don't feel that re-imagining some events in a slightly different timeframe really detracted from the story being told, although I could have done with a bit less of saviour Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) and his 'we all bleed pee the same colour'. Overall a much needed, heartwarming story.

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