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The First Grader (2010)

Naomie Harris , Tony Kgoroge , Justin Chadwick  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Oliver Litondo, Nick Reding, Vusi Kunene
  • Directors: Justin Chadwick
  • Writers: Ann Peacock
  • Producers: Sam Feuer, David M. Thompson, Richard Harding
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • DVD Release Date: December 27, 2011
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005M9VSNC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,627 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The First Grader" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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 (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 (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. The First Grader is a heart-warming and inspiring true story of one man's fight for what he believes is his right in order to overcome the burdens of his past. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education. The First Grader is supported by national TV, online, print, and social media campaigns reaching more than 100 million and it stars Pirates of the Caribbean actress Naomie Harris.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Grader provides an advanced degree . . . October 8, 2011
. . . in hope, history and humanity. I was unaware of this film until ensconced on a 16 hour flight where I discovered it and watched it twice. I eagerly await the release of the DVD. The film is set in Kenya in the mid first decade of the current century. It concerns an old man -- a former Mau Mau revolutionary in Kenya's struggle for independence fifty years ago. The man, now in his eighties, has received a letter from the President of Kenya. He wants to read it for himself but cannot; he is illiterate. At the same time, it is announced that there will be free primary education for all Kenyans. He shows up on the first day of the school year to attempt to enroll in a school in a nearby village so that he can learn to read and write. Ultimately, the woman who runs the school accepts him over the objections of the parents of the children. I won't disclose any more of the plot, but this should be enough to provoke your immagination.

The film, based on a true story, does have a darkside in the recollection of some of the actions of the British in trying to control the rebellion. I commend the BBC for producing this film; it is very critical of the UK. There are very brief sequences of violence which are a necessary evil in the film without which the story would not ring true. But on the whole, The First Grader is inspiring and can be viewed on many levels.

I was touched deeply and entertained at the same time. This film is a must for anyone who loves teaching, learning and contemporary African history. And, if you haven't been to Kenya add a trip to your bucket list.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Grader February 28, 2012
By ldar23
Well done portrayal of a true story - a hero (unknown) that survived 10 plus years of torture including watching his wife and son murdered determined to gain his land of Kenya 'back' and thus, freedom. Yet that is the "hidden" story. He is determined to get an education when his beloved country announces "free education for all!" At age 84, he wants to learn to read, and nothing deters him - not walking for miles, nor everyone criticizing or making fun of him. Not the children who at first tease him; nor the teachers who deny him and give him reason after reason. This hero is marvelously portrayed as is the beloved head teacher. Political corruption, even after "freedom" is obtained is correctly shown too; unfortunately too true and too frequent in these beautiful countries in Africa. His determination to get an education was not to base it on what he had done for his country until they took his teacher away; then he went to the "top" to get her back - for him and for the children, and I think for her, too. Well made, beautifully acted, scenery beautiful Africa/Kenya. When I read later tho it was planned for South Africa, then made in Kenya, I was pleased. I have traveled to both; and it is more meaningful having been made in the country of the story and the hero, with mostly local people. Loved this movie and hate the torture/war - why does man continue these evil ways? This movie portrays the worst of man and the best of man.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Grader is a Transcendent Human Story November 14, 2011
"The First Grader", like Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, seamlessly combines story and place to create an illuminating beacon for our time.

"The First Grader" portrays the story of Kimani Maruge, an 84 year old Mau Mau veteran who helped liberate Kenya from the British. After the Kenyan government announced in 2003 that free schooling would be offered for all, Maruge, played marvelously by Kenyan actor Oliver Litondo, arrives at a primary school to finally get his chance at an education - long denied under oppressive colonial rule and unavailable to him since independence.

As the story unfolds, the realities of rural Kenyan life intermix with Maruge's traumatic memories of torture, incarceration, and the murder of his loved ones, which he endured steadfastly for the sake of freedom. These very real scenes make a powerful emotional impact but with a remarkable reverence, a profound sense of calling and self respect despite injustice. There is an artistic elegance to this film that combines truth telling with transcendence.

'The First Grader", based on a true story, uses a school full of actual Kenyan pupils playing themselves. Oliver Litondo (Maruge) explains that high up in the Rift Valley "education is coming in as a new thing." The youngsters were not surprised to see an older student, there was already a fifteen year old in a class of six year olds, so the students accepted Maruge as one of them - just another student seeking an education like they were. Shared goals and shared experiences create a bond between the young students and Maruge.

There are also important shadow elements in the story written by screenwriter Ann Peacock.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie December 6, 2011
This is an excellent film showing the value of an education. It should be seen by every student in junior high and high school. I am disappointed it was not available to view in more theaters, but am happy it is coming out in video. The movie was very well done, with a great music background.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very moving presentation of the impact of colonialism on those ...
Very moving presentation of the impact of colonialism on those being ruled. Enough humor to keep it from being oppressive.
Published 3 days ago by aunt dot
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
But I want it with Spanish close caption _ Spanish audio
Published 9 days ago by Mercedes Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love this movie. Great and fast shipping!
Published 26 days ago by Betty
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely movie!
Wonderful story about determination and courage. Plods along a little in places, but very well acted and very inspirational. I highly recommend this movie.
Published 2 months ago by Baldjohn
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Grader
I saw the movie and enjoyed it and purchased it because it has both French and English options. The highschool French classes like it too.
Published 5 months ago by Carma J. Rausch
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE GEM
A wonderfully made movie. The same guy who directed Naomie Harris in this movie directed her and Idris Elba in the new "MANDELA" movie. GET THIS MOVIE.
Published 5 months ago by T. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Low tech and very high touch in message...... a parallel to the...
"The First Grader" is a surprising story about a generally unheralded (in the West) Mau Mau tribesman's journey through flashbacks coupled with his genuine desire to learn how to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by John Hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
This is such a great movie, my husband is from Kenya that is why we purchased it and are happy we did!!!
Published 6 months ago by Kimberly D Holst
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spirit Lifting DVD
I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD. I recommend to anyone who has a love for the human spirit. I loved this and think you might too.
Published 6 months ago by Grumpy
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Grader
A excellent movie. It shows what a ordinary man has to do in order to get an education. He sits among first-graders and tries to learn like they do. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Aunty Psycho
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