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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.

Director:

Gus Van Sant
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3,105 ( 313)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 61 wins & 141 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Penn ... Harvey Milk
Emile Hirsch ... Cleve Jones
Josh Brolin ... Dan White
Diego Luna ... Jack Lira
James Franco ... Scott Smith
Alison Pill ... Anne Kronenberg
Victor Garber ... Mayor Moscone
Denis O'Hare ... John Briggs
Joseph Cross ... Dick Pabich
Stephen Spinella ... Rick Stokes
Lucas Grabeel ... Danny Nicoletta
Brandon Boyce ... Jim Rivaldo
Howard Rosenman ... David Goodstein (as Zvi Howard Rosenman)
Kelvin Yu ... Michael Wong
Jeff Koons ... Art Agnos
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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:

Never blend in See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Harvey Milk Project See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,453,844, 30 November 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$31,841,299

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$57,293,371
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Scott Smith: I'm sorry, I pissed in your pool.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Bang Theory: The Killer Robot Instability (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Rock the Boat
Written by Wally Holmes
Performed by The Hues Corporation
Courtesy of JiMi Lane Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A chronicle of history
28 November 2008 | by Michael FargoSee all my reviews

I had little expectations walking into this film. The trailer for this movie has appeared at almost every feature film I've seen for the last two months. But, the trailer is a facile example of this minutely detailed story of the rise of a leader and his martyrdom. While I'm familiar with the story from other sources (Shilts' "The Mayor of Castro Street," and the 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk"), Gus Van Sant and his cast bring a new immediacy to this story.

None involved in this project could have anticipated the political climate of the premiere of this film: Both the hope of the Obama Presidency and the propaganda that helped Proposition 8 win in California. It seems a perfect environment for this story to reach across America.

The dignity with which all of this is told and acted is its success. At the same time, it doesn't shy away from the culture of the Castro. Perhaps the greatest compliment is the rendering of Dan White here. He is neither demonized nor excused.

We also don't get a white-washed version of Harvey Milk. He's there on the screen with all his foibles and kinks. Although his humanism shines in Sean Penn's unsettlingly accurate portrayal. It was Milk's love of--and impatience with--the rest of us that makes him a legend. And that is center stage in this film.

What Van Sant gives us is both humbling and an inspiration.


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