Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glenn Powell, Kimberley Quinn, Olek Krupa, Dane Davenport.
History smiles upon the heroic individual, or at least that is how it seems to be when reading some of the accounts of those who have taken great strides in their career or been the ones chosen to be the first in the field to succeed in attainting a giddy height of excellence. When taught at school about the achievements of the first men on the moon, the battles won for example by Field Marshall Montgomery during World War Two or perhaps the lonely heroic nature of Abraham Lincoln as he sought to carry the nation’s burden during the American Civil War, it is perpetuating a myth that only the individual exists in such moments, that whatever got them there, whom ever got them there, for the moment, does not exist, ghosts, invisible, the Hidden Figures of History because such memories are written from the top down.
Time though has funny way of rebalancing the scales of history, the legends may be written from the top down but it is those who make the hero stand tall such interesting people to finally learn about; their part in the elevated, their moment in which history was achieved; it might go against some type of rudimental learning, but these Hidden Figures eventually get their hugely deserved recognition.
Such is the fate of three black women who became through absolute brilliance and perseverance in their chosen fields at N.A.S.A. during the Space Race, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, were able to more than contribute to the success of the likes of Alan Shepherd, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong as America steeled itself to become the dominant force in space exploration.
It is these three women who are the focal point in Hidden Figures and who are seen to pave the way for all people of colour and women in particular to be seen as contributing more than just typing up report and filing and shredding discounted theories. These are three extraordinary souls who fought for recognition in what was seen as very dominant male environment.
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe are magnificent in the roles of the three women, a film in which the urge to cheer loudly at some of the ways they achieve at chipping away at the perceived hierarchy is overwhelming and essential.
A film in which the idea of history from the top down is reversed and seen as equally important, Hidden Figures is film of significance, intelligently presented and to which many lessons should be learned. A gift from history.
Ian D. Hall