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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.

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2,312 ( 35)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 57 wins & 137 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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John Briggs
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David Goodstein (as Zvi Howard Rosenman)
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

His life changed history. His courage changed lives. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Harvey Milk Project  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last public appearance of Harvey Milk's life, two days before he was killed, was attending a San Francisco Opera performance of Puccini's opera "Tosca" featuring the legendary Italian soprano Magda Olivero, on Saturday, November 25th, 1978. Not only is this event depicted in the movie, but it was in honor of that appearance that the filmmakers chose to use "Tosca" for all the operatic music heard in the film. See more »

Goofs

According to title cards at the end of the film, Dan White's lawyers argued that consumption of junk food caused a chemical imbalance in his brain. White's lawyers actually claimed that massive consumption of junk food was a symptom of his depression, not a cause. Psychologists employed by White's defense argued that he was clinically depressed, as evidenced by changes in behavior, including consumption of large quantities of junk food. One psychologist claimed that junk food may have contributed to White's mood swings. See more »

Quotes

Harvey Milk: [Scott Smith is heading down the stairs and Harvey tries to make eye contact] Hey, hey...
[Scott stops and looks at him]
Harvey Milk: I'm Harvey.
Scott Smith: Okay, Harvey...
[smiles a little awkwardly]
Harvey Milk: Today's my birthday.
[Scott laughs]
Harvey Milk: No, it actually is my birthday. At midnight.
Scott Smith: [still smiling, a little skeptical] Really.
Harvey Milk: And, believe it or not, I don't have any plans.
[...]
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Connections

Featured in De wereld draait door: Episode #4.85 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

The Washington Post March
Written by John Philip Sousa
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A chronicle of history
28 November 2008 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

I had little expectations walking into this film. The trailer for this movie has appeared at almost every feature film I've seen for the last two months. But, the trailer is a facile example of this minutely detailed story of the rise of a leader and his martyrdom. While I'm familiar with the story from other sources (Shilts' "The Mayor of Castro Street," and the 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk"), Gus Van Sant and his cast bring a new immediacy to this story.

None involved in this project could have anticipated the political climate of the premiere of this film: Both the hope of the Obama Presidency and the propaganda that helped Proposition 8 win in California. It seems a perfect environment for this story to reach across America.

The dignity with which all of this is told and acted is its success. At the same time, it doesn't shy away from the culture of the Castro. Perhaps the greatest compliment is the rendering of Dan White here. He is neither demonized nor excused.

We also don't get a white-washed version of Harvey Milk. He's there on the screen with all his foibles and kinks. Although his humanism shines in Sean Penn's unsettlingly accurate portrayal. It was Milk's love of--and impatience with--the rest of us that makes him a legend. And that is center stage in this film.

What Van Sant gives us is both humbling and an inspiration.


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