Co-writer/director Theodore Melfi (adapting Margot Lee Shetterly's book with co-writer Allison Schroeder) has a light touch not often found in dramas like this, which makes the material all the more effective. Watching “Hidden Figures” I thought about how I would have felt had I seen this movie 30 years ago, when I made the decision to study math and computer science. I’ve been the only person of color in a less than inviting work environment, and many of Henson’s delicate acting choices vis-à-vis her body language held the eerie feeling of sense memory for me. The deaths of five students led the students there to start a lawsuit that became part of Brown v. Board of Education. It recalls that earlier scene and how things have changed. Third, Melfi turns these three women into a group hero representing a bigger group—the dozens of black female computers, as well as the far greater groups of under-respected brilliant women and disrespected African-Americans, without slighting their individuality. The Russians launched Sputnik and the space race began. The film occasionally stumbles in its storytelling, notably when Katherine abruptly and temporarily gets demoted, and in its staging, especially when Dorothy joins a roadside group listening to a broadcast of Glenn’s risky re-entry with a wobbly heat shield. Though the cop situation is resolved in an amusing, joyous fashion, “Hidden Figures” never undercuts the fears and oppressions of this era. She’s a genuine Ms. Fix-It, even with that mysterious, recalcitrant new IBM contraption. The strange thing for me is that I saw more Black programmers in this movie than I’ve encountered in my entire career. Few black people were applying at Langley because the area was still segregated. There are two particular lines in HIDDEN FIGURES that reference space as an analogy rather than a location. Her supervisory expertise is also on display when a police officer shows up to investigate. Costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus says Katherine’s costumes mirrored her journey from timid to confident mathematician and if you watch her clothing evolve you’ll see how it allows her to stand out more among the uniformly-attired men. Melfi frequently views Dorothy close to the ground, enabling Spencer to draw on her own rootedness. In Chapter 11, Mary Jackson was sent to work on a project on the East Side. everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Hidden Figures. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. As part of that move, West Computing was disbanded, which meant that Dorothy Vaughan was no longer in a management position. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. In Moonlight he’s loose and individualistic as Juan, a drug dealer from Cuba, while in Hidden Figures he’s commanding and courtly yet also endearingly stiff as a career military man. Vaughan is one of the three real-life African-American women who helped decipher and define the mathematics used during the space race in the 1960s. She moves shrewdly, gracefully, and implacably through NASA’s corridors, whether surprising Mitchell at her desk or invading the IBM office and learning how to work the machine without any IBM men even noticing her. President Truman desegregated the military and called for fair treatment of black government employees. Dorothy became the head of West Computing after Blanche Sponsler became ill and died. Hidden Figures is a book that features three African-American women, who are part of America’s space work force. When it comes to the astronauts and outer space, the moviemakers simply borrow from the best—several scenes are like more conventional remakes of episodes from The Right Stuff. So much so that it does my mathematician’s heart proud. Now a widowed mother with three daughters, she enters her new job humbly, anxious to prove her worth. We are thankful for their contributions and encourage you to make your own. Detailed analysis of Characters in Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures. In Chapter 20, Nasa tested the Mercury capsule while Christine Mann, a student at the time, who was in college. Hidden Figures: Epilogue Summary & Analysis Next. The three Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson do an exemplary job by demonstrating their immense mathematical skills in a segregated center. Fifteen years younger than her co-stars, Monae imbues Mary with a youthful attitude that sometimes drives the other computers crazy, as when she ogles the visiting astronauts and says, “It’s equal rights—I have the right to see ‘fine’ in every color.” (When the gentlemanly John Glenn saunters over to meet the black computers, Mary shakes his hand in both of hers). There were also two scenes with people looking up into space. Mary Jackson wants to be the first Black engineer at NASA, yet as with Vaughan’s library book, she’s hindered by Jim Crow practices. In Chapter 23, Katherine was at a conference for her sorority during the Apollo 11 launch. The study guide uses references to African Americans as "blacks" and Caucasians as "whites" to reflect the language used by the author of Hidden Figures; this language also reflects usage during the particular moment in history that the book is tracking. Katherine Goble’s team began working with the PARD team toward the spaceflight effort. She moved her children to live with her while her husband continued his itinerant hotel job. Katherine was the only black woman to appear in it. Even the repeated sight of Katherine racing from the Space Task Group on the white East Side of NASA’s campus to the “colored” rest room on the West Side, half a mile away, adds to the film’s seriocomic momentum. Hidden Figures. The American people are in a strange place this fall, days before election day. Dorothy knew that if the West Computers were to keep their jobs they would need to learn to use the calculators and computers. Together, Henson and Costner convey the magnetism of total professionalism. Christine Darden started work at NASA as a data analyst and worked her way up through the ranks. This running joke culminates in a brilliantly acted, angry speech by Taraji P. Henson that is her finest cinematic moment to date. Even today, some of my customers look at me funny when I show up to fix the problem. Later, Mary was given an assignment and when the numbers did not come out as expected, the division chief believed she had made an error. View Wikipedia Entries for Hidden Figures…. Even as a little girl Melfi shows her on the move, practicing prime numbers as she ambles through the woods, then teasing geometric shapes from the designs in a stained-glass window. Katherine, the first African American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University, is a wunderkind who must learn how to work wonders as an adult. LitCharts Teacher Editions. She’s an important example because she contributes not just to one world-changing space mission, but to several, proving herself again and again, in spite of occupying a doubly unique position at Langley as both a black woman and an elite research scientist working on some of the world’s hardest problems. These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Scientific Progress vs. Social and Political Progress . They’re omnipresent even when we don’t see them, and the film develops a particular rhythm between problems and solutions that is cathartic without feeling forced. In Chapter Three, Dorothy was hired to work at Langley at twice the pay of her teaching job. The segregated transit systems made travel difficult for everyone and sometimes led to conflicts between the races. This is one of the year's best films. Most of the workers are white males. This Study Guide consists of approximately 51 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - Their unspoken bond emboldens Katherine to nudge Harrison into opening doors for her—and once she walks through, Harrison is canny enough to push her to her limits. Costner plays against this grandeur with a first-rate portrait of a pragmatist as hero, intense and brusque, boasting plainspoken eloquence and deadpan sensitivity and wit. Or, on the flip side, glossing over the difficulties so much that what the women had to overcome starts to seem easy. I’ve been a computer programmer for 29-1/2 years, so I suppose I would be a tad biased toward a film that uses FORTRAN as a means of exacting socially relevant revenge. GradeSaver, 29 March 2020 Web. We are living through five crises simultaneously. The horrors of slavery in America return in Antebellum, an audacious thriller that revives thorny questions of how to portray the past, Susan Sontag, Sweden, 1969; Kino Lorber, DVD & Blu-Ray, More than words: the subtitler of Godard, Assayas, and others talks about the process in this accompaniment to our May-June 2020 Art and Craft article. Mary Jackson began an engineer training program, but first had to get permission to attend classes at Hampton High School, which was segregated. resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. One is at the beginning when the women look up with the police officer who stops to help them. He’ll play an troubled... New David Suissa Podcast Every Tuesday and Friday. This, however, was not the case in the film Hidden Figures which highlights three black women who were vital to the U.S. space program.. Chapter 15 focuses on Christine Mann, who was a high school student at the time schools in Little Rock, Arkansas were in the news because of black students trying to integrate them.