Milk (2008) – Review

OK, so I hold my hands up – when I initially posted the trailer and my thoughts on the then upcoming film, ‘Milk’, I got it completely wrong in terms of the distribution that this film would receive(!)

Nearly twelve months later, and after storming awards ceremonies across the globe, I am very pleased that this film made it to the mainstream after all.

I finally got around to watching it on DVD last night, and I thought that it was amazing. Perhaps the best bio-pic that I’ve ever sat down and watched. Many people of my age will always say it, but it really is hard to imagine that just outside of our generation, we had to fight for the simplest of rights;  for example, the right to not to be branded a pervert and banned from becoming a teacher, or even for a heterosexual to support a gay person in their job. Ludicrous. This film really did hammer the story home with a lot more  impact than reading the same story in print would have done I feel.

Perhaps being based on a real life person helped for the first, in my opinion, decent portrayal of a gay man on the silver screen. Normally we’re portrayed as psychos, old fat historical figures, or people who are damaged by life. Not Harvey Milk – he’s a man who wants to give us hope and will fight for injustice, and all without the stereotypical character flaws that are usually given to gay men in the movies. I found his characterisation to be endearing, and I finished the film wanting to know even more about him.


A strong cast and creative team (during the credits I ‘mmm’d’ my approval several times), really have helped to make this a remarkable movie and I found it truly compelling to watch. I really liked the occasional mixture of archive footage from the time being blended in with the newly recorded scenes. I think that it’s a film that I can actually take something out of, and I think that the Harvey Milk’s of the World definitely need much more recognition.

A marvellous film; if you have not yet had chance to see it, I urge you to.

As an aside, I’ve just been looking online at buying the DVD and find it a little strange to see that they give away the ending on the front cover?! What’s that about? Obviously, we all know that he was tragically gunned down and that the film isn’t going to end happily. However, the film is engineered in a way that, if you do not know the story, you start to panic when he’s on the stage at the parade, and then you calm down towards the end and ultimately get taken by surprise… so why ruin the ‘surprise’, if you like, by having a picture of the shooting to ‘sex-up’ the cover?! TSK!


About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

3 Responses

  1. dirtylittlehomo

    #Hey there! I found your blog through a wordpress search and wanted to comment on something you said.

    I too was extremely moved by the film “Milk” on many levels. As a gay youth, when I came out at my Oregon highschool in the 90’s (which in my town itself was something, but at my particular highschool we had a few teachers, and faculty that were out and gay) my librarian at the school was a lesbian feminist who showed me a huge shelf of books on gay and lesbian history and advice for teenagers coming out.

    Harvey was one of the many people I became a fan of, and read everything I could get my hands on about him.

    For 2 years (2002-2004) I lived in San Francisco, that first year in an apartment right on Castro Street. I could look to the left of my front door and see the famous square where he would hold his rallies. To my right a block away, I could see the camera shop he owned where it all began.

    So to see that movie with clips of real footage from archives and footage the motion picture, with everything and also being able to see my former bedroom window in the movie really made me wish I had stayed so I could have been an extra in that movie. Gus is also a hero of mine.

    Growing up here in Oregon and having lived in Portland for several years now, I love being able to see the nostalgia from Gus van Sant’s early films still flicker in my memory (my first gay movie I saw in a cinema was “My Own Private Idaho”) as his older films from the beginning of his career were all filmed here in Portland, as this also is his home.

    I was blessed to see the movie “Milk”, it was a beautiful and kind homage from someone I admire about someone who else I admire with such thanks.

    Anyways, there’s my rant. Hello, and hopefully you will come by and say hi sometime!


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