Set in a mountain village in Kenya the film tells the remarkable true and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last chance to learn to read and write - and so ends up joining a class alongside six year-olds. Together he and his young teacher face fierce resistance, but ultimately they win through - and also find a new way of overcoming the burdens of the colonial past.Written by
Tony Kgoroge is a frequent collaborator with director Justin Chadwick, having also appeared in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), another film Chadwick directed. See more »
[addressing her 200 students on her last day]
My mother never went to school, and she said to me, 'You must love education, so that you can do better than me'. I am your mother and I am telling you, you must love education, so that you can do better than me, better than all of the teachers.
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During the initial credits, there is 1. a photo of the real Maruge with some students. 2. a scene with the DJ mentioning Maruge's trip to the UN, and predicting that a Kenyan will ascend to the White House. 3. more scenes of the children at the school See more »
Uhuru Freedom Song
Composer & Arranger: Paul Mbugi Wambogo
Master & Publisher: Resonant Music (1) Limited Partners
Administered by Fintage Music Publishing & Collection B.V.
Used by permission. See more »
The first grader, a true story about an 84 year old Kimani Maruge (Oliver Litondo) and his quest for education
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.
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