Hidden Figures tells the inspirational story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. These three women served as some of the most brilliant minds at NASA during astronaut John Glenn’s launch into orbit. The film looks at overcoming sexism and racism in a field that is mostly dominated by white men. The score by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch does something wonderful here, and that’s create a really emotionally engaging score with a touch of style that never feels forced.
Pharrell Williams is actually a producer on the film, and he called on Hans to come help with the score. Hans in turn brought on Benjamin Wallfisch, and just like that a team of three was born! The score for Hidden Figures is not your typical empowerment movie score even if the film itself follows the formula pretty closely. The trio of composers all brought amazing things to the table, and you can feel each of their stylistic tendencies come alive as the score plays out. The best part is that the music does really feel like a blending of styles rather than a Hans track, followed by a Pharrell track and then a Ben track. Sure some tracks such as “Ladies’ March” bleeds with Pharrell’s sound, but they are usually layered with Hans’ melodic structures or Ben’s strings. Other things like emotional vocals, some electronic textures and a wonderful main theme help make the experience feel really unique. The important thing though here is that the journey and the characters that are felt through every point in the story. This is a feel-good score, and it’s meant to give you that tingly warmth. When all is said and done, you’ll forget that this movie and score does follow a formula, but it did so to the beat of its own drum.
Hidden Figures succeeds on the fact that the music felt genuinely energized and inspired by the story being told. Empowerment cinema is meant to feel good, and this score succeeds on that front as well. The music is subtle in its approach to the characters to allow us as an audience to connect. The score is also fun and stylish in its own special way to make you feel like you really are experiencing something new and unique to the story. Hidden Figures tells a wonderful story about 3 amazing African American women, and the story’s emotional soul comes from 3 diverse composers all from different backgrounds who came together as a band to create something fresh and effective in a genre that rarely surprises anymore.
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