The First Grader
Based on a true story, this inspirational drama profiles the amazing determination of 84-year-old Kenyan Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge, a Mau Mau freedom fighter who wants to take advantage of a new universal education decree by learning how to read.
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- Justin Chadwick
PG-13Some disturbing violent content and brief nudity.
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Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that although this docudrama -- which is based on the true story of the oldest recorded student ever to attend primary school, 84-year-old Kenyan villager Kigani Maruge -- is uplifting and touching, the flashbacks to his past as an imprisoned member of the Mau Mau insurrection are disturbingly violent. The worst of it isn't shown directly (scenes instead focus on close-ups or other people in the room), but it's clear what's happening. And Maruge is shown being tortured (strung upside down, pierced in the ear with sharpened pencils, and forced to watch as his family is harmed), and others are killed. Other than the violence, there's nothing teens can't handle, but the flashbacks will be too intense for tweens. Because of its historical elements, the movie provides a good opportunity to discuss issues related to education and colonialism.
- Sexual Content
- A married couple hug, kiss, and cuddle a couple of times. In flashback, a man remembers his beautiful wife, who is wearing revealing tribal clothes.
- In flashbacks, viewers see the Mau Mau raid a British farm, where shots ring out and a man and woman are killed; the tribe is then shot at (with many killed) as they retreat. A much younger Maruge is captured and tortured in various ways (which is when there's a brief shot backside as he's strung upside down). In one harrowing scene, he's forced to watch as horrific things happen to his family (they take place off camera, but viewers know what's happening). There's also some rioting against the school to intimidate them to get rid of Maruge, who uses his walking stick to defend himself against much younger men.
- Some hurtful insult language like "whore," "old man," "stupid," "liar," and the like. Subtitles include derogatory comments about the British colonialists, the loyalists, and the Mau Mau.
- Social Behavior
- Maruge's struggle to learn and overcome the atrocities of the past is an impactful lesson for teens. He realizes it's never too late to educate himself, and he's finally able to come to terms with everything that had been taken from him as a younger man. Jane Obinchu's role reminds viewers that it's important to be an advocate for the disadvantaged, even if it's difficult. The message that we have a lot to learn from each other is expressed in a touching manner.
- Not applicable
- Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol
- A group of drunk older men passing around a bottle is shown several times as Maruge walks to and from school.
- Age appropriate
- Not an issue
- Depends on your kid and your family
- Not appropriate for kids of the age most likely to want to see it