By Alistair Lawrence,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Olympics docu has brief language, abuse and war references.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Working hard to achieve your goals. Overcoming bullying. Dealing with pressure and the expectations of others. Dealing with setbacks and failure. The importance of self-sacrifice. Celebrating diversity. Caring for one another. Teamwork. Providing for your family.
Positive Role Models
The athletes featured all dedicate themselves to sporting excellence. They are surrounded by supportive family members, coaches, and friends who enable them to pursue their dreams. Some of them discuss their personal lives and political turmoil in their own countries in the context of what motivates them to succeed.
Strong mix of genders, ethnicities, and nationalities. Pioneering athletes from underrepresented backgrounds and disciplines are seen. Disabled athletes also feature in archive footage.
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Violence & Scariness
Archive footage of rocket fire and damage done to cities by warfare. Some discussion of peril as a result of natural disasters. Footage of controlled sporting violence, such as boxing. Brief mention of child abuse. Pistols fired as part of shooting events.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Shirtless athletes shown competing in events such as swimming and diving.
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Brief glimpse of the word "f--k" seen in graffiti. "God" used as an exclamation.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that First is a documentary that follows a number of international competitors taking part in the London 2012 Olympic Games. It features a variety of athletes from different countries and disciplines. Nearly all of them have overcome some sort of hardship, from growing up in poverty or countries harmed by war to suffering bullying and child abuse. The athletes' resilience and positive mindset give the movie its positive messages, as they keep both success and failure in a healthy perspective. It also presents people from different cultures and creeds as equal, showing them all to be young positive role models. Other positive role models include the mentors, coaches, and loved ones who work with the athletes to help them on their way. Female athletes are shown competing in events that were historically closed off to them, such as boxing and judo, while relatively new Olympic sports such as BMX are championed. While paralympic athletes do not feature as prominently as the Olympians, there is some footage, and they are shown as part of the same community. There is no swearing as such, although the word "f--k" is briefly seen in some graffiti.
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What's the Story?
FIRST profiles a number of athletes from diverse backgrounds and disciplines competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Is It Any Good?
It's impossible to dislike anyone involved in this documentary that celebrates the sporting endeavors at the 2012 London Olympic Games. However, First does struggle to weave a coherent story from its various strands of sporting excellence. Writer-director Caroline Rowland comes from a sporting background and was involved in two films supporting London's successful Olympic bid. Which may explain why, in truth, this feels more like a promo reel for a race that has already been run -- literally, in some cases.
Even with a running time close to two hours, there are simply too many stories here to manage much more than a "before" and "after" profile of the various competitors. Mostly this is comfy, heartwarming viewing rather than providing any real insights into what actually powers world-class athletes. Although listening to judoka Majlinda Kelmendi discuss the personal and professional hardships that she's suffered as a result of war in her native Kosovo does a lot to underline how the Olympic Games brings people together in the best possible way. Sometimes it really is the taking part that counts.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk the appeal of the Olympic Games as explored in First. Why is it regarded as so important for sporting and cultural reasons?
Discuss some of the stories the athletes tell about themselves. How did this put their perseverance and accomplishments in context? What did this tell us about what it takes to succeed at something difficult?
Talk about the losses some of athletes suffered. How did this affect them? Why is dealing with failure important, particularly if you have a competitive nature?
Did you have a favorite event that featured? How can someone's personality, background, and upbringing all influence their sporting interests?
How can documentaries help tell stories that need to be told? What other documentaries have you seen that have affected how you felt about something?
- On DVD or streaming: May 30, 2013
- Cast: John Orozco, Heena Sidhu, David Rudisha
- Director: Caroline Rowland
- Studio: NBC Studios
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 7, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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