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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.


2,834 ( 111)
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:

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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?


The apartment that was used in the film is the real apartment Harvey Milk lived in on the Lower Haight in San Francisco. See more »


When Harvey Milk moves from New York City to San Francisco, a shot of Highway 280 shows modern freeway signs (bright green, with exit numbers) instead of the 1970s versions (darker green, no exit numbers). See more »


Harvey Milk: [to Cleve Jones] You're going to meet the most extraordinary men, the sexiest, brightest, funniest men, and you're going to fall in love with so many of them, and you won't know until the end of your life who your greatest friends were or your greatest love was.
See more »


Featured in The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards (2009) See more »


Queen Bitch
Written by David Bowie
Performed by David Bowie
Courtesy of RZO Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

92 of 133 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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