Our number came up on the hold list for the movie Hidden Figures. I don't watch a lot of movies (since I'm too busy reading instead) but I'd been curious how they were going to condense 20+ years into a movie that wasn’t a documentary. There were quite a number of changes because of the limitations of creating a reasonable length movie. Primarily, the movie only covering a few years in the early 1960's, years which occur in the middle of the story told by the book, and by creating several composite characters.
I generally think the movie was well done. I liked how the coffee pot in Katherine Goble/Johnson's lab stood in for the repeated tensions about the sign on the colored tables in the lunchroom. While a bit overdramatic, I think the bathroom “runs” to the other side of the campus – work in hand – were a nice touch to show both inconvenience and dedication. I liked the visual of how the "girls" in their brightly colored dresses popped out of the sea of caucasian engineers in white shirts. And while a stock Hollywood trope, I liked the march of the former West Computers to their new lives in the IBM mainframe lab.
I didn't like how the movie turned Katherine's checking the numbers for John Glenn's Freedom 7 trajectory into a last minute nail-biter. While the time shifting of the true request to have a human check the numbers generated by the IBM computer, for the sake of the movie they felt the need to raise the stakes and add a false crisis.
In the book, the focus was clearly on the women and their accomplishments and while the sexism and racism of the day was ever present, I felt like it wasn't the focus of the story. In the movie format, with the need to center the composite characters played by big stars Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons, I almost felt like the movie was too much about racism and sexism and not enough about how the women developed and what they accomplished. But some of that may just be the time limitations of a movie.
In closing, I'm glad I took the time to watch Hidden Figures soon after I read the book, but I'm also glad that I waited to watch it at home for the cost of a trip to the library to pick up the DVD rather than paying theater prices.