January 30th, 2009

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Still of Lucas Grabeel in MilkStill of Emile Hirsch in MilkMarley Shelton at event of MilkStill of Sean Penn and Gus Van Sant in MilkStill of Sean Penn in MilkStill of Sean Penn in Milk

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.

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 7.8/10 (69,538 voted)

Critic's Score: 84/100

Director: Gus Van Sant

Stars: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch

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.

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

Taglines: His life changed history. His courage changed lives.


Official Website: Official site | Official site [Spain] |

Release Date: 30 January 2009

Filming Locations: 29th & Dolores Streets, Noe Valley, San Francisco, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $1,453,844 (USA) (30 November 2008) (36 Screens)

Gross: $31,841,299 (USA) (16 April 2009)

Technical Specs


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.

Anachronisms: During one of the first scenes in the camera shop, a Kodak cardboard on the shelf has a newer Kodak logo.

Harvey Milk: [First lines] This is Harvey Milk speaking on Friday November 18th. This is to be played only in the event of my death by assassination. During one of the early campaigns, I started opening my speeches with the same line and it sort of became my signature... Hello, I'm Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you.

User Review

"I'm 40 and I haven't done anything"

Rating: 9/10

Gus Van Sant's talent and humility allows Harvey Milk to be a the center of this remarkable story without putting himself in front of the camera. Sean Penn shines with a new and extraordinary light as Harvey Milk. His humanity is overwhelming at times. That permanent smile defining his face talks volumes about his faith in people, no matter what. His awareness is filled with truth and innocence, he worries he's about to be 40 and hasn't accomplished anything. Little did he know.The film is constructed brilliantly in a series of vignettes that builds up into a whole fluid narrative. Josh Brolin, as the disturbed Dan White is another standout in a complex and remarkable performance. No cheap shots here. Diego Luna, Joseph Cross and Emile Hirsch are also terrific as the boys around Harvey but it is James Franco who truly gets under your skin. His romantic turn is one of the most compelling gay love stories I've ever seen (and I've seen Brokeback Mountain). Highly recommended!

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