John Glenn became famous for being the first American to ever orbit the Earth. But the people who made this possible are equally important. Their story has never been told, until now. Hidden Figures is an upcoming film that looks at the three African American female mathematicians whose job at Nasa helped to put the first American into orbit in 1962.
The trailer debuted on Sunday night in-between NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer as Katherine G. Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan respectively.
Johnson was a maths prodigy who had a gift for observing polygons and became one of NASA’s first “computers”; women who calculated the results of testing wind tunnels. She eventually calculated the accurate flight trajectory for Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space.
She also contributed to some of the theory which helped to make the Apollo moon landing a success. In 2015, Barrack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Johnson’s associates, Vaughan and Jackson, were also brilliant mathematicians in their own rights.
In the trailer, we see the start of Johnson’s romance with Colonel Jim Johnson and the strains that her work puts on her family. However, the major conflict is seeing how the women had to overcome racial and sexist barriers to be taken seriously and to help shape history.
However the film will be received, it’s an essential piece of cinema because it shows American heroes that most of us never even knew until recently. In the 60s, going to space was a very big deal, and the people involved were treated like rock stars. However, the actual brains behind the missions were largely ignored, especially the black ones. If nothing else, this movie will show our girls that there is no limit to what they can achieve.
The film, based on “Hidden Figures: The African American Women Mathematicians Who Helped NASA and the United States Win the Space Race”, is directed by Theodore Melfi, whose last feature was St. Vincent. Pharrell Williams provides original music. The other cast members include Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner. It will premier in theaters on January 13th 2017.
Watch the trailer below: