Monday, December 22, 2008


Many people out there remember the murder of Harvey Milk. I do not remember it, but I know a little bit about it through reading and being culturally aware. The first openly gay major politician combined with the famed Twinkies defense of Dan White make it one of the most interesting assassinations of our time.

The story of his rise to office and his struggles along the way are one of the most interesting sagas of our time as well.

Since the ending was no mystery, the film telling Harvey Milk's story, Milk, discusses the more personal side of his life and briefly examines the figures around him in these formative years in the movement to find equal rights for Gay Americans.

Milk is a compelling look at both the movement and the man as they both came in to focus in the early days of the Castro in San Francisco.

Gus Van Sant has been working for years to get this project out there, with rumors of a variety of leading men, and this latest attempt led by Sean Penn. Harvey Milk is a complex character to say the least, and Penn seems like an obvious choice to play him. Penn's ability to immerse himself in his roles provides the character with the depth that the real Milk deserves.

The film was intriguing and informative enough for a wide audience, even though the subject will probably not give it the audience it deserves.

Some discussion of timing came when the release was announced. Obvious parallels to the modern-day gay marriage issues and Prop 8 specifically make the story even more poignant and relevant than if it were released in the 90's when it was originally proposed. Some thought that it would have helped convince voters to vote against Prop 8, but there is little chance the viewers of this movie are really going to be anyone who isn't already a supporter of gay rights.

Plot-wise, Milk seems to gloss over much of the personal life of the subject and concentrate on his professional life. The backdrop of the early days of the gay rights movement gets a bit of glossing over as well, with some pretty significant supporting cast playing people who were also major players in the movement just seeing fleeting moments on the screen.

Milk gets an A- and only falls short by leaving the audience wanting more.
--John Berry, Online Editor--


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