By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)


Hidden Figures: A Cultural Study on Racial Diversity

Hidden Figures serves as a cultural study on racial diversity and segregation in the 1960’s. This film is directed by Theodore Melfi in a very intriguing way based upon its original intention. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. Hidden Figures tells the story of three intelligent women that work for NASA whose skin color cloaks them from their deserving rewards for their incredible work ethic. These women attempt to overcome the difficulties and struggles of being an African-American in the 60’s of America. We as an audience watch the story of these intelligent women, and how they overcame discrimination, segregation, and justification. Hidden Figures encompasses the ideals of cultural racism versus patriotism in a dramatic screenplay sprinkled with entertaining moments.

This screenplay is interesting for its timing in today’s cultural, societal, and political environment. With current political climate being what it is, this was an accurate portrayal of a beautiful and inspirational story of work ethic overcoming segregation. From a filmmaking standpoint, this film exceeds in multiple categories. The production design of the movie does a magnificent job of creating this setting without relying on stereotypical design or unoriginal placement. You feel encompassed by the time frame of this film’s environment. You become entrapped by the movie’s reality over yours. The cinematography uses vibrant colors from this period to create some beautiful and visually appealing scenery. The picture also comes across as classic intentions with modern design, meaning the intentions are to create this unique environment combined with modern day filmmaking.

The score of this film is also really enthralling. Entrapping you with this combination of classical jazz and modern day pop which creates a crescendo of time combined with tone. As far as direction goes, this film has mistakes in staying focused on its tone. Theodore Melfi does a fascinating thing of seemingly transitioning from historical realism of events to fictional filmmaking. This editing was excellent to watch, but also confusing for me to comprehend based upon its lack of fluidity. This flaw can be about the film’s average editing and unimaginative direction. Overall the filmmaking techniques used were done with good intentions and honor to the narrative. However, the film focus can cause it to become lost due to its unimaginative filmmaking qualities.

The performances make this film feel incredibly interconnected by combing on-screen chemistry with historically inspired characteristics. Taraji P. Henson had a very excellent performance, by connecting her dramatical talents with this innocent lovability. She has an amazing scene in the film that connected with me, and it plays on the development of emotional investment of the movie. Octavia Spencer also does an incredible job. She is such a lovable character in this film, from her adorable smile to her inspiring work ethic. Janelle Monae is also awesome to watch. She comes across as so realistic and natural with her portrayal of this real life person. Janelle was beautiful to watch, because of her differences from the other two main characters.

As far as everyone else in the film, their portrayals are okay, but they were given a lack of screen time to create investment in their characteristics. There is more than one character that would have been incredibly rewarding to watch in this movie, and I wish they could, but obviously this would end up being a 3 to 4-hour film. The flaws of the film centralize around three techniques and aspects that created a lack of fulfillment for me. Hidden Figures, in my opinion, struggles with length, tone, and unimaginative direction. The film’s length is a bit too long for me as a viewer, due to the focus on her home life and not her groundbreaking actions. I believe they could have focused less on her home life and more on her inner workings of how this main character learned math so easily and how she views it.

As I said before, I believe the film has trouble staying focused on its tone between realism and cinematical entertainment. This unfocused theme is because of the common direction in my opinion. I don’t believe the direction is terrible; rather I feel that the direction is lackluster because this film contains mature messages about work ethic and intellectual talents overcoming racism and segregation. A movie with this powerful of a message, in my opinion, deserves skillful and imaginative direction to capture the mature themes of this inspiring film visually.

In summary, Hidden Figures is a movie based on a true story that provides entertaining sequences combined with great performances and great technical filmmaking. The flaws I had with the film revolve centrally around its length, lack of tonal focus in particular moments, and its uncreative direction. But, I do recommend going to experience this film in theaters, and I’m going to give Hidden Figures a B+. What did you guys think of Hidden Figures? What is your opinion on its cultural study on the 1960’s? Do you think it will have an impact on today? Let me know down in the comments below and as always have a blessed day.

Rating: 4/5



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