Hidden Figures: a Summary and Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 808 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jan 30, 2024

Words: 808|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jan 30, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Summary of the Movie
  3. Analysis of Key Themes
  4. A. Representation and Overcoming Stereotypes
    B. Intersectionality and Discrimination
  5. Examination of Historical Accuracy
  6. Analysis of Film Techniques and Directing Choices
  7. Comparison with Other Movies Addressing Similar Themes
  8. Conclusion
  9. References


The movie "Hidden Figures" directed by Theodore Melfi is based on the true story of three talented African American women who worked at NASA as mathematicians during the space race in the 1960s. This essay provides a summary and analysis of the movie's key aspects and themes.

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Summary of the Movie

The movie depicts the journey of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) as they work at NASA and make significant contributions to the success of the space program. The three women are faced with numerous challenges such as racism, sexism, and discrimination, but they persist and succeed despite the odds.

The movie is set in 1961, in Hampton, Virginia, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The tension between the two nations is palpable, and NASA is under immense pressure to launch its first manned spacecraft into orbit.

Analysis of Key Themes

A. Representation and Overcoming Stereotypes

The movie challenges racial and gender stereotypes by depicting the three main characters as intelligent, capable, and resilient individuals who defy the odds and exceed expectations. The women are shown as dedicated professionals who are passionate about their work, and their achievements are attributed to their intellect and hard work rather than their race or gender.

The movie also highlights the perseverance and determination of the characters to succeed despite the challenges they face. For instance, Katherine Johnson is shown as being persistent in her pursuit of knowledge and her willingness to stand up against segregation and prejudice. Similarly, Dorothy and Mary are shown as resourceful and innovative individuals who work hard to overcome the discrimination they face in the workplace.

B. Intersectionality and Discrimination

The movie portrays intersectionality by showing the layered discrimination faced by the characters in different domains. The three main characters are African American women who face discrimination based on their race, gender, and socio-economic status. For example, Dorothy is shown as being denied a promotion due to her race, despite her qualifications and experience. Similarly, Mary is denied the opportunity to become an engineer due to her gender, despite her impressive academic results.

The importance of intersectional feminism is also highlighted in the movie, and the characters' fight against discrimination is shown as being collective and intersectional rather than individual.

Examination of Historical Accuracy

The movie is generally accurate in its depiction of the events of the space race and the contributions made by the characters. However, there are some minor deviations from historical accuracy, such as the timeline of events and the portrayal of some characters. These deviations, however, do not significantly impact the message of the movie and do not detract from its significance in highlighting the contributions of these remarkable women.

Analysis of Film Techniques and Directing Choices

The use of cinematography, editing, and sound in "Hidden Figures" is impressive and contributes to the film's overall narrative. The film is shot in a way that emphasizes the tension and urgency of the space race, with close-ups of computer screens, ticking clocks, and the buzzing sound of NASA's control center. The director's choices in highlighting key moments and characters are also impactful, such as the scene in which Katherine explains her work to her colleagues, or the scene in which Mary challenges the court's judgment against her. These techniques make "Hidden Figures" an engaging and emotional movie that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.

Comparison with Other Movies Addressing Similar Themes

"Hidden Figures" is a unique contribution to the genre of historical movies that highlight the often-overlooked contributions of women and people of color. Some movies that address similar themes include "The Help" (2011), "Selma" (2014), and "Harriet" (2019). While these movies focus on different historical events and characters, they share the common theme of individuals who fight against discrimination and injustice. "Hidden Figures," however, stands out for its unique perspective on the space race and its portrayal of three exceptionally talented women who made invaluable contributions to NASA's success.

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In conclusion, "Hidden Figures" is a remarkable movie that tells the inspiring story of three brilliant women who made significant contributions to NASA's success. The movie challenges racial and gender stereotypes, portrays intersectionality, and highlights the importance of fighting against discrimination. The movie's technical aspects, directing choices, and historical accuracy add to the overall impact of the movie on the viewer. "Hidden Figures" is a unique contribution to the genre of historical movies, and it will undoubtedly inspire many viewers with its message of perseverance, determination, and hope.


  1. Melfi, T. (Director). (2016). Hidden Figures [Motion Picture]. USA: 20th Century Fox.
  2. Olsen, K. (2017). Making Hidden Figures: How a group of women helped NASA get to the moon. History, 1-8.
  3. McGill, A. (2018). Hidden figures: The rise of intersectional feminism. Women's Studies International Forum, 69, 27-32.
  4. Slate, J. R. (2017). Hidden Figures and the appeal of inspirational history. The History Teacher, 50(1), 69-85.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Hidden Figures: A Summary and Analysis. (2024, January 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Hidden Figures: A Summary and Analysis.” GradesFixer, 30 Jan. 2024,
Hidden Figures: A Summary and Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Hidden Figures: A Summary and Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jan 30 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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