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The first grader is a true story about an 84 year old Kimani Maruge (Oliver Litondo) who decides to go back to school after learning that the Kenyan government has introduced free education. He was a MauMau soldier a fact that prevented him from getting an education he so desired due to the war. He goes back to school so he can learn how to read the bible and a letter he received. This decision takes him on a journey full of struggles, which he has to overcome. The head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomi Harris) undergoes the struggles with Maruge, which rocks her marriage and also gets her transferred to another school. The movie's theme is the struggle a person undergoes when attempting to accomplish his or her goals. The movie's plot combined with good acting from Oliver Litondo and Naomi Harris shows his journey and struggles. Maruge and Obinchu fight the parents, villagers, education board, and teachers that are against his going back to school as they see do not see the reason why an old man about to die needs education. To them this is a waste of the schools scarce resources. Conviction, a movie about Carl Upchurch, a felon who turns his life around while in prison by getting an education and discovering his identity has a similar theme to that of the First Grader. In his mission to help out people who are in the same situation he was in he faces a lot of opposition and mockery from people due to his past, but never gives up hope. The first grader uses low-key lighting to create a somber mood and especially when Maruge has flashbacks of his days in the forest as a MauMau soldier and the torture he endured. The movie also uses high-key lighting with the difference between light and dark areas being wide thus creating powerful dramatic images. The movie also employs motifs, which is in form of Marugue's struggle and journey. The flashbacks about Maruge's days as a MauMau veteran and the suffering he and others endured in order to help Kenya achieve its independence is the motif that reflects the movies theme. In the movie, Maruge is suffering and is also being ridiculed by other due to his decision to get an education. The first grader is an inspirational story that takes the viewer through the struggle of a man to achieve his goal of learning how to read so he can understand the bible and a letter he received.