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Milk (I) (2008)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  30 January 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 129,525 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 279 user | 322 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

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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Won 2 Oscars. Another 53 wins & 121 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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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:

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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
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Did You Know?


On the American Film Institute's year-end list of the 10 best movies of 2008 (this list is decided by a group of film scholars, journalists, and professionals, including Jeanine Basinger, Mark Harris, Elvis Mitchell, Daniel Petrie Jr., Richard Schickel, Robert Towne, and Leonard Maltin). See more »


Harvey Milk uses the term "African-American" during a speech. While Reverend Jesse Jackson popularized the term in the early 1980s, it has existed since 1782. See more »


Harvey Milk: Even though the Castro was firmly our area by 1973 it wasn't safe for us. We would have to wear whistles on our necks or in our pockets and if you ever heard a whistle you would run for help.
See more »


E lucevan le stelle
from "Tosca" by Giacomo Puccini
Performed by Giuseppe Di Stefano and the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala (as Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala)
Conducted by Victor de Sabata
Courtesy of EMI Classics
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Great man, Great film, Great performance by Sean Penn
28 November 2008 | by (Washington DC) – See all my reviews

"Milk" is the best film of 2008, hands down. Anyone unfamiliar with the story of Harvey Milk and his murder needs to know it. Those of us who have already read a ton of books and articles about Harvey Milk, and seen the award-winning documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" will find a side of Harvey we had not seen before in this movie so the film really is a must-see whoever you are.

The performances by the entire cast are perfection... a notch better than even the best of films. I believe this is due to the story of Harvey Milk, who inspired so many of us and changed the lives of millions of us for the better. Harvey himself surely inspired these great performances. Once you have seen Harvey's smile, and heard Harvey's words, and seen Harvey in action (as we all can do by watching "The Times of Harvey Milk" documentary) you can never see the world the same way again.

Sean Penn's performance as Harvey could not be bettered by any actor living today, so we owe him a great debt for making this movie, and giving his heart and soul to the role. I believe it is Penn's most mature yet also most lovable role ever. I wanted the movie to go on and on, because I felt like I was actually there in San Francisco in 1978-79. Gus Van Sant recreated that world perfectly, and Sean Penn showed us the potential of this very real man with this unique ability to inspire and transform us. Gus and Sean have each earned a very special chamber in Heaven for giving us this beautiful tribute.

65 of 103 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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