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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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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

When Gus Van Sant was planning a biopic of Milk in the early 90's he offered the part of Cleve Jones to River Phoenix, who he had just worked with on My Own Private Idaho (1991). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[from trailer]
Harvey Milk: Without hope, life's not worth living.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Boondocks: A Date with the Booty Warrior (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Presto, su! Mario! Mario!
Written by Giacomo Puccini
Performed by Symfonický orchester Slovenského rozhlasu (as The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra)
Conducted by Alexander Rahbari
Courtesy of Naxos
By Arrangement with Source/Q
Tosca: Nelly Miricioiu (uncredited)
Spoletta: Miroslav Dvorský
Sciarrone: Jan Durco (uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"I'm 40 and I haven't done anything"
3 November 2008 | by (Silver Lake, CA) – See all my reviews

Gus Van Sant's talent and humility allows Harvey Milk to be a the center of this remarkable story without putting himself in front of the camera. Sean Penn shines with a new and extraordinary light as Harvey Milk. His humanity is overwhelming at times. That permanent smile defining his face talks volumes about his faith in people, no matter what. His awareness is filled with truth and innocence, he worries he's about to be 40 and hasn't accomplished anything. Little did he know.The film is constructed brilliantly in a series of vignettes that builds up into a whole fluid narrative. Josh Brolin, as the disturbed Dan White is another standout in a complex and remarkable performance. No cheap shots here. Diego Luna, Joseph Cross and Emile Hirsch are also terrific as the boys around Harvey but it is James Franco who truly gets under your skin. His romantic turn is one of the most compelling gay love stories I've ever seen (and I've seen Brokeback Mountain). Highly recommended!


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