Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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 »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams
The Reader (2008)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz
Capote (2005)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.

Director: Bennett Miller
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Clifton Collins Jr., Catherine Keener
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The life story of singer Édith Piaf.

Director: Olivier Dahan
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Documentary | Crime | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Alex Gibney exposes the haunting details of the USA's torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.

Director: Alex Gibney
Stars: Alex Gibney, Brian Keith Allen, Moazzam Begg
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district.

Directors: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Stars: Kochi, Avijit Halder, Shanti Das
Man on Wire (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."

Director: James Marsh
Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau
Precious II (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton
Crazy Heart (2009)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.

Director: Scott Cooper
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell
Ray I (2004)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Director: Taylor Hackford
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.

Director: Luc Jacquet
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Charles Berling, Romane Bohringer
Dreamgirls (2006)
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.

Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy


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


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?


It was widely reported that while filming a scene at the old Castro Camera, some of the actors claimed that they saw a man come in and sit on a couch. After the scene was filmed, nobody else claimed to have seen the man, and the actors themselves went on to claim that it was perhaps the ghost of Harvey Milk. See more »


The Chinese food containers look like old standard white containers, without the wire handles that would hold them together. Microwavable glued containers didn't exist until fairly recently. See more »


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


Queen Bitch
Written by David Bowie
Performed by David Bowie
Courtesy of RZO Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"I am not a candidate, I am part of a movement. The movement is the candidate."
15 December 2008 | by ( – See all my reviews

"Milk" sees Gus Van Sant return to the mainstream after nearly a decade of divisive 'arthouse' films, a spell he might have felt was necessary after directing "Psycho" and "Finding Forrester" back to back. The stunning, beautiful "Gerry" is still his greatest film in my estimation, but Van Sant's return to near-unanimous mainstream acclaim and some level of box-office success in "Milk" actually isn't too far off as far as Van Sant's filmography goes. Some may express disappointment that "Milk" is a 'conventional' biopic, but it really isn't conventional at all.

True, this could have been the sort of melancholy meditation Van Sant has been going for in recent years, but the best argument against that is that Harvey Milk is not that figure. He's not going to sit quietly and contemplate life. Perhaps he might have before we meet him on the eve of his fortieth birthday, but from that point onwards Harvey Milk was a man of action, of words, a man with the powerful ability to rally people for a cause, and not only gay people. He had a rare sort of energy, and an energetic film was needed to tell his story. Most impressive perhaps about Van Sant's direction and Dustin Lance Black's screenplay is that there are just as many of those melancholic, meditative moments as needed, just enough to make this a compelling character study and not a truly conventional biopic with a hero rather than a main character. The photography here is also simply gorgeous, and the camera work is outstanding, particularly the hand-held work during the rally scenes. It really succeeds in transporting you to 1970's San Francisco.

Sean Penn has frequently annoyed me. I respect his abilities, but reserve the right to express my subjective annoyance at what I perceive as sometimes hilarious over-acting. When I found out that he was going to play Harvey Milk I was nervous, since I have admired Harvey Milk ever since I was first exposed to him through the Rob Epstein documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk", which is still the best movie made about Harvey Milk, with "Milk" running a close second, and I doubt Bryan Singer's "Mayor of Castro Street" will be a serious contender. I had no reason to be nervous. Penn's performance is one of the most vibrant, fascinating, brilliant performances in years, and one of the most convincing and human. It's not a Harvey Milk impression, it's more than just that, but he truly does capture the 'essence' of Milk, if you will.

It is pointless to make a political statement in the body of this review, so take this as one only if you have to: it is disgusting that in 2008 gay rights still a matter of political debate. This film is a powerful, beautiful tribute to the rights movement. It's not a Democrats vs. Republicans film. In fact, it makes it clear that Harvey Milk was once a Republican, and sneaks in footage of Reagan in strong opposition of Proposition 6. Those short scenes should provoke some thought and discussion. They certainly did for me and the people I saw the film with. Ultimately however the film is not about an 'issue'. Harvey Milk says to Dan White that it's not about jobs or rights, that it's their lives that they were and still are fighting for. Ultimately this film is about people, not about issues, not about policy. It's about people who were told they were sick, who were told they were wrong, who were told they would corrupt society, who were accused of being pedophiles and attempting to 'recruit' children to homosexuality. The film is about Harvey Milk, a mere human being who did more for freedom and tolerance than he probably ever understood.

"I am not a candidate, I am part of a movement. The movement is the candidate."

Unfortunately, the fight against the rampant discrimination against and hatred of homosexuals is still not over. Milk's movement lives on, and grows stronger every day. He would be proud of that, and devastated that our society has not truly progressed, but only learned to mask its intolerance and hatred.

122 of 169 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Gay bashers: explain your reasoning. jaysilentbob37
one of the best lead performances of all time Marz_Barz
A Little Sleazy?.... mickydbar
If he hadn't been assassinated.... nan1701
Why have I never heard of this.... ruby_duby
Dan White's Family retromom72
Discuss Milk (2008) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: