I saw the movie Hidden Figures a few days ago. It is a film that everyone should see, one that illuminates a portion of our history that has been shadowed. It tells the true story of three exceptionally intelligent people who did not allow the discrimination and prejudice shown both women and African-Americans to hold them back for long. They made incredible contributions to the space program while they worked at NASA.
This movie is a reminder of a past full of prejudice and segregation. It makes a strong statement that we were wrong back then. Sadly, it can’t be thought of as just a look back at a dark period in our history. It’s message is very relevant today as women, African-Americans, and others still struggle for equal opportunity and recognition.
Hidden Figures allows for good discussion in the areas of history and government, and we took full advantage of that in our homeschool. We also analyzed the movie based on the principles of rhetoric. I will explain our thoughts, but I am going to attempt not to include spoilers. You’ll have to see the movie to see if we are right.
Ethos: The movie appears credible. Styles of clothing and cars, the influence of faith and the black church, and the pervasiveness of “Jim Crow” laws are all portrayed in an historically accurate manner. Several times, real news footage is shown on what appear to be period appropriate TVs. The movie is, of course, a fictionalized account of true events. I am sure that timelines, dialogue, and the details of incidents have been altered for dramatic effect. But the movie gives the impression that it is telling the real story in a reliable way.
Logos: The story dramatically builds it’s argument that segregation and prejudice were and are wrong. It logically shows that women and African-Americans should be provided with equal education and opportunity. It is consistent in this message.
Pathos: There are many points at which the movie successfully tugs at the emotions. At various points we found ourselves feeling empathy, sorrow, frustration and joy. We ended up rooting for some characters, despising others. Characters grew and, as their views matured, we found ourselves glad.
I strongly recommend this movie. It tells a powerful story, and does it well.
What movies have you found helpful lately?