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Hidden Figures: Book VS Movie #SaturdayMatinee #book2movies

Today’s Saturday Matinee is Hidden Figures, currently airing on HBO as part of its’ Black History Month celebration here in the US. The film was nominated for three Oscars when it came out in 2016: Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer who plays Dorothy Vaughn, one of the so called computers—what NASA called the females doing the advanced mathematical computations—and Best Adapted Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi. Their screenplay was based on the 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. THAT title would never fit on the marquee! 

I shared my take on the movie back in February 2017. Now I’d like to share an excellent Book VS Movie post from Tina at Novel Meals. Tina did what I’m always talking about. She both read the book AND saw the movie. Kudos, Tina. Thanks for letting me share your viewpoint:

‘What an amazing story. The book was very detailed and while it didn’t exactly drag at places, it was slow sometimes.   The movie was excellent and did a good job of combining facts and took few liberties with actual scenarios.  (In my opinion)

 An accuracy portrayed in the movie, from the book, was Katherine Johnson’s great ability and intellect with mathematics. Since blacks did not attend school after 8th grade unless their parents could afford to send them, Katherine’s father made sure she could continue her education. He went to great lengths and expense to be sure all his children could attend school.

 If you’ve seen the movie you may remember that scene where Katherine is called to the blackboard to explain a problem. Doug and I just watched as she solved this crazy equation and then said, “It’s all pretty straight forward from here.” We just looked at each other, as the older students in the classroom did after she said this. Impressive intellect. Katherine graduated high school at the age of 14. Just wow.

In the movie it appeared there were a handful of people doing the work, the actual computations, and it was cliquish. The reality was there were hundreds of people working together and mostly in harmony. It wouldn’t be realistic to include so many in the movie version.

Katherine Johnson played by Teraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures

The segregation issue at NASA wasn’t as intense as the movie depicted, at least according to Katherine Johnson. She stated, “Everybody there was doing research, you had a mission and you worked on it, and it was important to you to do your job…and play bridge at lunch. I didn’t feel any segregation. I knew it was there, but I didn’t feel it.”

In real life she was treated as peer even though state laws regarding the use of separate bathrooms and buses was real.

The women of all races were called Computers. Black “computers” were put in the segregated west section of the Langley campus. These women calculated trajectories and results of wind tunnel tests. This was before electronic computers but even after their arrival, Johnson calculated by hand and verified the results of their electronic counterparts.

Overall the movie was very interesting and it will make you mad sometimes, the way the black computers were treated. I would recommend this movie and book.

Thanks again, Tina! 

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Do you have a book vs movie post you’d like to share? I’d love to share your point of view too.