The First Grader (2011)
In a small, remote mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don't want to waste a precious school place on such an old man. -- (C) Official Site … More
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Critic Reviews for The First Grader
It's funny how 'real life' sometimes conforms so closely to hackneyed patterns of screenwriting.
The First Grader is every bit as inspiring and heart-warming as you'd expect.
The filmmaking is ... uneven, filled with charming picture-postcard scenes of smiling children and African sunshine that seem crafted for a different film than one with moments of horrific flashbacks.
The story is uplifting in a predictably pro-education, antiwar, feel-good way, warmth and humor balancing the heavy moments.
Stow your cynicism and give this lesson in continuing education the response it deserves -- more than a polite clap, maybe even a sitting ovation.
An earnest "true story" that hits many of the expected importance-of- education grace notes, but never quite achieves a lump-in-your-throat reaction
The First Grader is a self-congratulatory and subtlety-free slog that makes saints of its protagonists, devils out of its antagonists and narcoleptics out of its audience.
With the melodrama cranked up as high as it is, it's hard to believe this was a true story.
An uplifting, romanticised and gently-paced film infused with the dry beauty of the Kenyan landscape and powered by the moist-eyed performance of Oliver Litondo in the title role
Based on real events, The First Grader is a unique blend of uplifting self determination and harrowing conflict
Learning never ends is the message of this inspiring true story set in Kenya in which an 84 year old villager joins local primary students in a bid to learn how to read. It's a great story
Director Justin Chadwick's film is sort of corny, not surprisingly, but it is inspiring and full of real feeling at times.
Wholesome and uplifting in the classic carpe diem manner and Harris is a lot more attractive than Robin Williams.
Even if the story runs on predictable lines, it remains hugely affecting.
Seems to go on for ever and manipulates its audience in the most naïve of ways.
A predictable but inspiring story of an 84-year-old, one-time Mau Mau warrior, who insists on an education at a Kenyan primary school.
While too many young people take education for granted in this country, The First Grader illustrates the need for older folks to be educated, too.
Ann Peacock's didactic screenplay may be based on a true story, but it's hopelessly unconvincing in the way it manufactures and resolves conflicts.
The screenplay sticks to a tried and trusted formula which tends to lessen the emotional impact of an amazing true story.
It's a complex scenario, but this movie winds up telling a straightforward, and slightly sucrose, heartwarming tale.
The subject matter is thought-provoking and inspiring and the performances from young and old alike are A-grade.
Audience Reviews for The First Grader
Wonderful movie!! Inspiring. Heartfelt. Moving....and so continues my theory that some of the best movies are the ones that I have never heard of.... I found this a heart warming story, and much to be learned from. The main character's determination to realize his dream against all odds is truly inspiring. Makes me count my American blessings.More
This true story of an 84 year old Kenyan man who, against all opposition, wants to make use of the new law of free education for first graders, is a perfect feel good movie. While the flashbacks into his past that by and by reveal his eventful back story and explain the motivation for his wish to learn reading also give a glimpse into the violent history of the country, this is not a political film. It is a story about the importance of education, dealing with your past and standing up for yourself. The performances are top notch and heart warming, especially the leading man Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris as teacher are adorable. While the film does not avoid all stereotypes that come with such stories it is still enthralling, touching, beautifully filmed and very entertaining.
The best stories are still those where bad things happen to good people but in the end everyone gets what they deserve.
The main (true) story here is not that a Kenyan octogenarian goes back to first grade, but the horrible hell he and his countrymen went through fighting off the British colonialist in the 1950s. This should be rated R because that hell is presented in a horrifying way. To those that say violence in movies make you numb: I love Kill Bill, I've seen it probably 7 times, and this movie disturbed me to a point where I wanted to walk out. But I'm glad I didn't.More
From the director of The Other Boleyn Girl comes a completely different story; one about perseverance and fighting for what is right. After just studying the Mau Mau of Kenya and their struggles against the British in the 1960's for a school project, it's devastating to see it on the big screen. The flashbacks are vivid, violent and disturbing, but the rest of the story is extremely heart-warming and inspiring. Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris are absolutely superb in their roles. Harris is so different here from her role in Pirates of the Caribbean as Tia Dalma. I would highly recommend this film because it conveys some very important messages, it is beautiful, extremely up-lifting and well-done.More
The First Grader Quotes
- Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge:
- Learn till the soil gets in your ears.
- Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge:
- We have to learn from our past because we must not forget, and because we must be better.
- Jane Obinchu:
- Class we have a new student today!
- Jane Obinchu:
- Why does someone as old as you want to go to school?
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