On Saturday evening I took my seventh grade daughter to see Hidden Figures. This movie struck me as rare and important for several reasons:
- It is loaded with strong female characters in prominent roles, and men were cast in supporting roles.
- Characters of color are the center of the film. For the three women at the very heart of the story, their race is forever a factor in their professional lives. The women are each supported by good men who help create the space necessary for them to succeed.
- It is a movie that deals honestly with topics regarding race and privilege that is also perfectly pitched for a family audience. I bet that many families are having healthy and honest conversations in the wake of seeing it.
- It provides insight into the corrosive nature of 1960s era institutional racism without simplifying the characters into cartoons of good guys and villains.
- Just as the characters in the film rise above the expectations to which others try to limit them, so to the movie rises above the expectations people have had for the relative box office success of a movie starring three women in lead roles. I don’t think I have been in a theater that full in many years…while not sold out, it was an excellent crowd.
- People applauded at the end. To me, this applause felt like a throwback to another time when applause at the end of a movie was more common.
- In a moment in our national history when we are too often starkly divided by issues of race and viewpoint, it reminds us that we have already come a long way, and thus it reminds us as well that not only is there more ground to cover but we are fully capable of pushing ahead successfully to something better.
- It is a movie a Head of School can recommend without caveat or hesitation.
I am certain that many young people, particularly but not exclusively young women, will one day cite this as a movie that inspired them to pursue science and math.