Harvey Milk, performed by Sean Penn, the true story of the man, the activist and the visionary that changed America in 70s.
A very inspirational movie from an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black about the gay community raised around Castro's theatre fighting for their rights in California in 70s. "Milk" tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States in 1977 as one of a transformed life, a victory for individual freedom over state persecution, and a political and social cause.
Gus Van Sant's film begins with Harvey Milk at 48, reflecting into his tape recorder about a personal journey that began at 40 when he made a decision that changed his life and the lives of many others. He took responsibility, as gay man, and he stepped out in defense of the rights of homosexual, becoming the public face of the movement.
With an extraordinary Sean Penn and a cast of amazing actors as such James Franco, as Scott; Emile Hirsch as the activist Cleve Jones; Josh Brolin as Dan White and Victor Gaber as Major Moscone, the several winner awarded Gus Van Sant composes a story that mixes an inspirational movie with an emotionally loaded drama and a historical documentary. Sean Penn is able to breathe life in the character of Harvey Milk with simplicity, never being stereotypical or contrived. Harvey Milk is represented as a whole person in his political commitment, his personal life and relationships all flowing into the daily life of the politic activist, the politician from the heart out and holding up idealism and will of changing, whatever it takes. As the American film critic Roger Ebert wrote:
'Sean Penn never tries to show Harvey Milk as a hero, and never needs to. He shows him as an ordinary man, kind, funny, flawed, shrewd, idealistic, yearning for a better world. He shows what such an ordinary man can achieve. Milk was the right person in the right place at the right time, and he rose to the occasion. So was Rosa Parks. Sometimes, at a precise moment in history, all it takes is for one person to stand up. Or sit down.'
The 'ordinary' guy that used to open every public speech with the sentence 'I'm Harvey Milk and I'm here to recruit you' moved the United States and create a bridge in the society mindset of that years. He and his fellows contributed to make possible for the minorities, the 'us'', the outcasts, to stick together and to gain an identity, to 'step out of the closets' and stand up for themselves. Not only gays, but lesbian, women, black people, seniors, Asian, etc. In 1977, it was not possible to be if not in the mainstream. In such a prude and conservative environment, Milk made a powerful appeal to closeted gays to come out to their families, friends and co-workers, so the straight world might stop demonizing the abstract idea of homosexuality, being forced to face real people with real needs and rights. Milk helped to inspire a powerful movement, before everything else, where homosexual people started to be self-aware and not feeling alone but part of something, being recognized and respected as human being before the sexual orientation. 'If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country' is perhaps a term that best characterises the mindset of Milk.
'It's not my victory, it's yours and yours and yours. If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We've given them hope' is another famous quote.
Very touching the final scene showing a candlelight march reaching as far as the eyes can see in memory of Harvey, the friend, the man and the public hero. This is an actual footage from that period. All the district and all the streets of San Francisco was lighted by thousands of candles, the hope that Milk lighted survived to him.
Touching and educational movie, quite interesting to understand better the political movement in 70s.