Hidden Figures, the true story of three women who overcame race and gender barriers at NASA to help launch the first American man into orbit, has already beaten out The Great Wall and Fifty Shades Darker at the Aussie box office.
Over the weekend, the film soared to the top, earning $3.25 million AUD, bringing its total Australian box-office earnings to $4.84 million.
And really, it's no surprise it's doing so well. Adapted from the nonfiction book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film is rewriting African American women into history for their incredible achievements.
It follows the lives of NASA's first black female engineer Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monae), brilliant geometry expert Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), and NACA's first black supervisor Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer).
The film has been nominated for three Oscars, including one for Best Picture, another for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, and Octavia Spencer has been put forward for Best Supporting Actress.
Here's why you need to go see Hidden Figures, ASAP...
It Brings Diversity To The History Of Women In STEM Industries
While you may have heard of Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel prize for her work in science, or perhaps Ada Lovelace, the woman considered to be the first computer programmer, women of colour are rarely mentioned in the history of science. However, as you will learn in Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson's work was essential to NASA's mission to put the first American man in orbit. In fact, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2015, at the age of 97. The three main women in the film are fabulous role models to young women wanting to pursue a career in STEM, particularly women of colour.
It Has An Important Message For Women About The Power Of 'Getting On With It'
While all the women in the film faced racial and gender barriers to achieving their goals, they discovered ways to overcome adversity, even if it meant working twice as hard as the men to prove their point. Katherine Johnson put her head down and focused on being the best at what she does in a room full of judgemental men. Mary Jackson worked to change segregation laws about education in Virginia so that she could become NASA's first engineer. And Dorothy Vaughan taught herself and her team the Fortran programming language after hours so that they could keep up with the new IBM computer when the men couldn't.
It's A Stark Reminder Of The Past, And A Brutal Critique Of The Present
Hidden Figures is set in the 60s, make no mistake about that. In a time of segregation and disgusting levels of racism, the women face colleagues who won't drink from the same coffee cart as them, the humiliation of 'coloured bathrooms', and much lower pay than their white colleagues. This all comes to a head in an emotional scene in which Katherine Johnson is drenched from the rain after running to the coloured bathroom half a mile away and confronts her boss about the racism she faces. But the film provokes thought about the current state of America and the world, in which immigration bans have been enforced and racism is still common, though perhaps less blatantly obvious.
It Features A Love Story For The Ages
Though by no means the focus of the film, the romance between Katherine and Lt Colonel James A. Johnson will make you melt. In real life, Katherine and James have been married for over 50 years.
Weekend movie plans sorted.