Shadows: how black women sent man into space

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Shadow Figures
20th Century Fox

A real hit in the United States, the film became La La Land’s great challenger at the 2017 Oscars. It will be rebroadcast this evening on C8.

On the ground of “the incredible true story”, Lion, the melody with Nicole Kidman on the cute little Indian child lost 5000 km from home and taken in by an Australian family, has a serious competitor: Shadow Figures tells how three brilliant black scientists, calculators at NASA, have, by their intelligence and their courage, advance the cause of women and blacks while sending John Glenn into space.

It’s 1961 and Katherine, Mary and Dorothy are NASA “calculators” (we’re before computers). Face of progress and modern America, the space agency nevertheless parks black women in a wing reserved for them and under-exploits what it does not yet know how to recognize as great minds. These three extraordinary women will however manage, each in their own field, to showcase their precious skills and to impose themselves in this world dominated by white men. In the midst of the Cold War, the space race is a major issue for the United States, which will be obliged to use all the talents at its disposal so as not to be left behind by the USSR.

Oscars 2017: Shadow Figures has already won

Civil rights, girl power and the conquest of space: Shadow Figures is a great feel-good film, with an uplifting story, which gives America a somewhat dark mirror but not too much (it ends well, John Glenn goes into space, women all find their place in the NASA which ends up recognizing them and we even witness a pretty love-story with the new star Mahershala Ali as a charming asset). The actresses – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae – are impeccable and each embody a variant of the strong woman, figures of fighters determined never to feel sorry for themselves. And we even find Kevin Costner as a feminist converted to the cause. The whole is eminently nice and feels like a blanket compared to the shocking documentaries nominated for the Oscar for best documentary – The 13the, I’m not your nigga and OJ: Made in America, who all deal in their own (brutal) way with the black American question. Compared, even, to Moonlight, the coming-of-age story of a black gay in the crack-infested Florida ghettos, who won the Oscar for Best Picture last Monday.

Trailer of Shadow figures :

A series adapted from the film Les Figures de l’Ombre

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