Mary being reminded that she must sit in the back of the court room, again because of her race

And in spite of it being an overall positive experience, I could feel the oppression at certain points – Dorothy at the library just trying to find the right book, but it is in a part of the library to which she cannot gain admittance due to her race. Katherine runs across campus just to find a bathroom that she is allowed to use and never once complaining about it until she is publicly berated about her use of time. Kevin Costner’s character appears to be a generally good person who doesn’t care about race, and yet still never even thought about the difficulty of being forced into a certain bathroom half a mile away.

You don’t need to understand the mathematics to enjoy the film, but I admit, it was fun to hear some concepts I haven’t heard since my college days.

The theater was almost full, with people of all ages. I was particularly happy to see some kids there, as there is much for them to take away from this film.

Twice during the movie the audience broke into applause, and then applauded at the end credits as well. I don’t recall the last time I heard that at a film. And most importantly – I did not see a cell phone light up the whole time – truly a miracle.

We baby boomers remember the intensity of the space program very well, and it’s brought home in « Hidden Figures, » a 2016 film starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spancer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons.

It also shows a world just before computers came in, with space trajectories figured out in pencil

Based on a non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film is about three black women who entered the space program as mathematicians. At NASA they had a dual fight – not only were they black, but they were women in a man’s world. The film shows the segregation and prejudice they encountered. Totally amazing. The story culminates with – what else – John Glenn’s historic orbiting sitio de la empresa of the earth.

Fortunately for these brilliant, ambitious, and determined women, the prejudice shown in the film was actually overdone to make the story of their accomplishments stronger. Their accomplishments were pretty darned impressive anyway.

In the film, Katherine (Henson) has to walk 40 minutes to the « colored » bathroom until her supervisor, Harrison (Costner) finds out about it. In truth, though this is something Mary (Monae) did encounter, Katherine didn’t know about a segregated bathroom and used the regular one for years. Katharine, in fact, when interviewed, said that while prejudice existed underneath, in truth, everybody was concentrated on their work.

Costner’s character is a mixture of different people, as is often done in films. He didn’t really allow Katherine into an important meeting – she started pushing to attend them, and did, beginning in 1958. When Mary goes to court so she can attend a white school at night, this didn’t happen, though the school was segregated. She requested and received an exemption. You can see that would have looked pretty unexciting on film.

I don’t think embellishing incidents and creating new ones that don’t hurt the true story is a bad thing – the screenwriters wanted to make a point and more importantly, since it is film, do something visually

I think they could have done it without every character so totally against these women. I’m white, and having worked in many offices, I can promise you there’s a Jim Parsons character in every one no matter a woman’s color. Back then men resented women in positions of authority. Probably many of them still do.