Milk – a difficult movie to watch + commentary

Milk (2008)
128 min  –  Biography | Drama | History
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.

I watched Milk on TV last night. It was shown on the USA network, so it was not edited, at least that I could tell. If it was edited, it was only to remove an occasional F Bomb.

It is a damned difficult film to watch. There are times when a casual viewer might want to avert their eyes. This movie, much like the man it is about, is up in your face.

The history lesson is good; the portrait of the 2nd half of the 70’s enjoyable. There is a lot of archival footage of familiar faces and voices, such as Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News, Tom Brokaw on The Today Show, and perhaps a few clips too many of Anita Bryant.

This movie tells the story of gay rights activist Harvey Milk. It does a good job of saying that Milk is to gay rights what MLK, Jr. was to black rights. Unfortunately, racists still don’t like King, and gay haters still won’t like Milk after watching this movie.

Milk, although a compelling figure, is not a sympathetic one. I think you’ll come out of this movie feeling and thinking the same way you went in. You’ll either still be for equal rights for gays or still against them, but probably even more so. I don’t think this movie changes hearts and minds, though clearly that seems to be its purpose.

I think its an important film. I think its a good movie. I would even call it an enjoyable flick, with the aforementioned caveat that it is a hard movie to watch. I won’t define that statement any further. I challenge you to watch for yourself.

Kudos to Sean Penn for a well-acted part. I AM ALL FOR EQUAL RIGHTS. But in my humble opinion, the film may have been more effective if it were less “in your face.” But that wasn’t who Milk was, as the movie makes clear.

In any event, we’ve come a long way since the 70’s and gay rights are far more respected and wide spread than before. And that is to a very great measure the result of the work started by Harvey Milk.



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