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Higher Learning (1995)

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People from all different walks of life, encounter racial tension, rape, responsibility, and the meaning of an education on a university campus.


John Singleton


John Singleton
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Omar Epps ... Malik Williams
Kristy Swanson ... Kristen Connor
Michael Rapaport ... Remy
Jennifer Connelly ... Taryn
Ice Cube ... Fudge
Jason Wiles ... Wayne
Tyra Banks ... Deja
Cole Hauser ... Scott Moss
Laurence Fishburne ... Professor Maurice Phipps
Bradford English Bradford English ... Officer Bradley
Regina King ... Monet
Busta Rhymes ... Dreads (as Busta Rhymez)
Jay R. Ferguson ... Billy (as Jay Ferguson)
Andrew Bryniarski ... Knocko
Trevor St. John ... James


Youngsters from different countries, races, and social background are forced to integrate when they all enroll in Columbus University. They all have their own problems, such as finance, harrassment, personal safety, and self doubt. Additionally, campus life seems to be causing a problem for everyone: racism. Students, already under pressure to perform in the classroom, on the track, or in front of their friends, are strained to the breaking point by prejudice, inexperience, and misunderstanding. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of violence and sexuality, and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

11 January 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Higher Learning - Die Rebellen See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR | SDDS


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Omar Epps Kristy Swanson and Andrew Bryniarski all appeared in The Program. See more »


When Remy confronts Malik, by the statue, about Malik's black panther shirt and calls him a coon. Malik makes threats and Remy runs off. In the next scene Malik confronts Remy at his dorm room Malik states that Remy has been good about not saying anything to him. See more »


Fudge: [Referring to the Frederick Douglass book Malik is borrowing] Read it for yourself, and not for some damn class.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Unlearn [appears in movie's closing shot, instead of "The End"] See more »


Referenced in Psych: Yang 3 in 2D (2010) See more »


Written by Mista Grimm (as Rojai S. Trawick), E. Clark, Craig Steve Kenoly, Matthew Shack,
John Singleton and Bob Wartinbee
Produced by Chase
Performed by Mista Grimm
Courtesy of New Deal Music, Inc.
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User Reviews

The most racist and most hate-promoting film since "Birth of a Nation"
12 July 2001 | by Skywalker02See all my reviews

Yes, Birth of a Nation is mentioned in this review because both John Singleton and D.W. Griffith have a lot in common. They are both gifted film makers, who have evil politics. And he turns back the clock 99 years with the use "Old Testament" character representation in role reversal. These films have so much in common, I'm could believe that Higher Learning was formally titled "Birth of a Nation 2 You Too"

A breakdown of this plot is about three college students Malik (Omar Epps) Kristen (Kristy Swanson) and Remy (Micheal Rapaport)who come to college and get caught up in some galvanized cases of racial prejudice.

Every last character in this film is nothing more but a human stereo-type.

Malik Williams, beyond any possibility of deviation, is the good guy

Remy, who didn't even get a last name given to his character, is the out-numbered white kid from, brace yourself, a small country hick town in Idaho. Long story/short, his bullied treatment from Ice Cube and his Ghetto friends manipulate him to become a Nazi skinhead.

Kristen Conner is the helpless , confused ,ignorant , sympathetic , white girl.

If these character descriptions seem one-dimensional and flat, then I gave them too much depth.

Every negative/Angelo stereo type is depicted in this film. You have your date-raping, beer drinking frat boys, your Rodney King type ,night-stick clubbing ,campus security guards, your ignorant bystanders and lets not forget those obligatory Neo-Nazi Skinheads, who's sentences can't be finished without uttering "White Power!"

The members of the protagonist race, are educated, cultured, and heroicly good, without the slightest bit of ill will. One example is when the date-raping frat-boy calls Kristens' roommate a "black bitch" and he's gently convined to apologize by Ice Cube and his flock.

If that isn't enough ,Singleton tips the scales even deeper by executing a fight scene where 105 lb rapper Busta Rymes ,single handedly fights off two skin-heads while 6'4, 350lbs skin-head , played by former body-builder Andrew Bryniarski is beat to a pulp by a guy half his size.

Just when you think the odds can't get any more leveraged, the Skinheads strike back ,murdering the only passive individual to the end, and when Malick rushes to revenge this death, he is ambushed by (you guessed it) campus security in traditional Rodney King style.

The only solice that Singleton gives to the villainous race in this film is dream sequence ,love scene between Swanson and Jennifer Connelly, which Singleton more then likely put in to salivate at.

This film is as biased and one-sided as a game of see-saw between Marlin Brando and Calista Flockheart.

The closing of this film was a final conversation between the noble hero, Malik and some generic and ignorant member of the antagonistic race (who miraculously seemed to avoid those persuasive recruitments by the Nazi Skinheads) saying there's no hope for the races to get along I guess. It almost seems as if Singleton wants every Angelo who sees this film to drop down to their knees, crying: "God, why did you make me White?, Why?"

I recall seeing Lawrence Fishbure bring a refreshing presence to this film. "Peppermint?" His first line is "Welcome to the Real World" I was then reminded of his great presence in "The Matrix", and then it was all clear. Matrix is reality and Higher Learning is a far as you can get from reality as possible, because all issues in this film that relate to college life make you actually believe in things like jumping 100 ft between buildings and dodging bullets from agent Smith.

The very final moment of the film is the word "UNLEARN". Singleton finally said the right thing, because unlearning the last 2 hours of your life is exactly what one should do after seeing "Higher Learning"

I think I'll side with Delro Lindo, from "Get Shorty" in saying:

"I've seen better film on teeth."

Singleton can make no excuses for this ungodly concoction of smite, because he's proven that he can make a film that is true to life, heart-felt, moving, informative, well acted, inspiring and humanly meaningful (Boyz in the Hood).

Higher Learning should have it's own section in the video store: Sociological Science Fiction.

Before anyone considers renting this, overrated, over-hyped, overly racist propaganda (with Jim Camerons' "True Lies" running a close 2nd) let me suggest a much more significant alternative.

The underrated, under seen "American History X"

I'll say it three times so you wont forget: American History X American History X American History X

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