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The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.


2,543 ( 291)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 57 wins & 137 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Briggs
David Goodstein (as Zvi Howard Rosenman)


Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk's career from his 40th birthday to his death. He leaves the closet and New York, opens a camera shop that becomes the salon for San Francisco's growing gay community, and organizes gays' purchasing power to build political alliances. He runs for office with lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager. Victory finally comes on the same day Dan White wins in the city's conservative district. The rest of the film sketches Milk's relationship with White and the 1978 fight against a statewide initiative to bar gays and their supporters from public school jobs. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Never blend in See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »



Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Harvey Milk Project  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,453,844 (USA) (28 November 2008)


$31,838,002 (USA) (10 April 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During a July 2008 interview with the Orange County Register about Pineapple Express (2008), the interviewer told Seth Rogen and James Franco that he prepared for the interview by watching the classic stoner comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) the night before. When he asked Rogen and Franco if they prepared likewise before making Pineapple Express, Franco said he prepared by making out with Spicoli (a reference to his having filmed Milk (2008), in which he and Sean Penn play lovers). See more »


When Milk and allies dispose of Coors Beer, contemporary Bud Light and Budweiser taps are clearly seen in the bar. See more »


Harvey Milk: [addressing crowd with bullhorn] I know you're angry! I'm angry!
[crowd cheers]
See more »


References The Poseidon Adventure (1972) See more »


Everyday People
Written by Sly Stone (as Sylvester Stewart)
Performed by Sly and the Family Stone (as Sly & the Family Stone)
Courtesy of Epic Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Moving and inspiring
15 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this last night at the Portland premiere with Gus Van Sant and James Franco among others. This is a powerful work and, in my opinion, Gus Van Sant has taken a big step towards the mainstream in his artistic direction. To me, the person who is by no means a movie expert, it seems that this movie had a much faster, accessible pace than his other movies. There were no long-shots or minutes at a time without dialog, etc.

I've really never thought much of Sean Penn before, but, with this role, I expect him to sweep up the awards. Everyone was great in their parts, but he did such an excellent job in portraying the Harvey Milk that I have seen before in clips and documentaries. They did not make out Milk to be a choir-boy, which was one thing I was afraid was going to happen. This story seems long overdue in it's telling, but so completely relevant to today's news.

I expect, as the movie hits theaters, this will cause quite a stir, with both sides using it as fodder in their fight. I expect the ratings will reflect this as there are already people giving it 0's who obviously did not attend the premiere. I don't think it deserves a 10 either, but is much, much closer to that end. Looked at objectively, it is a sometimes tearful, sometimes funny movie that was put together masterfully

82 of 125 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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