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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:

His life changed history. His courage changed lives. 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

Director Gus Van Sant has been involved with the making of Harvey Milk projects for over fifteen years. For his unsuccessful attempt to film The Mayor of Castro Street (1982) in the early 1990s, many actors were under consideration for the role of Harvey Milk including Robin Williams, Richard Gere, Daniel Day-Lewis, and James Woods. See more »

Goofs

When Harvey and Dan are being interviewed on TV in January 1978, Dan says he's expecting his first child. At the baby's christening, which appears to take place a few weeks later, baby Charles can hold his head up. Babies can usually hold their heads up at around four months old. Also Charles White was born in mid-June 1978, after the contentious vote on the youth campus, and after Harvey's forty-eighth birthday in May. (Dan's grudge against Harvey developed before Charles's birth, but Harvey was still invited to the christening.) See more »

Quotes

Harvey Milk: Gentlemen, Anne Kronenberg - a woman. A woman who likes women, isn't that ususual?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Community: Biology 101 (2011) 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

 
Van Sant delivers a great marriage of art and history
15 November 2008 | by greg-253See all my reviews

Just caught the Portland premiere and have a few thoughts.

Very thankful this film was made. Until now, it seemed like I was fairly alone in knowing about Harvey's legacy. After "Milk" starts getting attention....I hope that a whole new generation will come to know the Mayor of Castro Street (see Randy Shilt's book) and the importance of the gay rights movement.

That being said, Van Sant's "Milk" is great marriage of art and history. Instead of a dry portrait of an assasinated leader, we get a beautifully rendered flavor of the times, and an intimate vision of a man finding his place within a community and history.

Casting is brilliant. Penn inhabits Harvey Milk in a way that few actors I believe would be capable. His physicality and energy is very believable - and it's easy to forget what actor you're watching. After a while...it's just Harvey. I could go on about the supporting cast...all very solid in their own way. James Franco (Scotty) stands out as well....showing his range and willingness to expand as an actor.

Kudos all the way around...I see this film getting several nods at Oscar time.

Additionally...Rob Epstein's Oscar-winning 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" is a definite must for anyone who enjoyed this film. I watched it right after "Milk" - and am still impressed with how affecting it is.


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