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Milk (I) (2008)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  30 January 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 129,564 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


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:



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?


Sean Penn became only the ninth actor to win two Academy Awards for Best Actor after winning for this movie. See more »


When Harvey Milk mounts a soapbox, a U.S. Postal Service vehicle from the late 1980s is in the background. See more »


Scott Smith: Are you on uppers or something?
Harvey Milk: No, this is just plain old me.
See more »


Featured in Great Movie Mistakes 2: The Sequel (2011) 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

Moral, ethical, honestly Christian
24 February 2009 | by (Romania) – See all my reviews

I never vibrated together with Van Sant, but this time I must say he convinced me.

The main merit of "Milk" is that it conveys A MORAL PRINCIPLE - in an extraordinarily powerful, and stylish too, way. Or, as it's also stated: "What matters is the fight, more than the outcome!" The script, very dense and well organized, follows the fastidious steps of building up a message, at the same time respecting the ingrate historic chronology - the perpetual dilemma of the docudrama. All around this structure, the direction skilfully grows-up the flesh of the human content, social layers and ethical matters. It turns out a definite lesson of movie-making, for all to see and learn.

I should also add that my country, Romania, is just passing through the historical stage that "Milk" is depicting: pushing homophobia into obsolescence and reaching normality. As such, initially our rating commission came with a positively ludicrous decision: banning "Milk" for the 18- audiences, because (hear this, as a pearl of idiocy!) "It makes propaganda for a certain sexual orientation!" I gave them a piece of my mind, in my own review, pointing out that the movie only MAKES PROPAGANDA FOR MORALS, so it should be recommended to ALL AGES AUDIENCES, no matter how young! In the end, after an official complain, they relented and lowered the rating to "not recommended to under-15". Still silly, but one can't have it all, can we? Thank God, audiences who don't care about this movie will ignore it, and those who do, will see it nonetheless. And become better human beings.

89 of 130 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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