M I L K: Mardi

“Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.”

“My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you!”  From the inspiring words of Harvey Milk, who changed peoples lives, changed a significant part of history. Today, he is known as the first openly gay rights activist to be voted into a public office in America.  The 2008 film, “Milk”, documents the hero’s powerful life.  The opening line is used through the film within the beginning of Harvey’s speeches to interrupt the tension of different audience beliefs.  Harvey Milk had the desire to engage individuals into the political affairs of social equality.  Every human being should have the right to be free, to be equal.  The film was directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustine Lance Black; filmed on Castro Street and other locations in San Francisco, California.

Throughout the film, the challenges Harvey faces are recorded into city politics and the many battles he thrived for the rights of his own, active people.  From local residents to people across the world, Harvey Milk changed the atmosphere of what it means to be an honorable hero. “Milk” maps the last eight years of Harvey Milk’s life within his love relationships and his dramatic  yet, vital role as part of an empowering camera business company.

The various techniques director Sant used involved an experimental style with long tracking shots, indirect and broken narratives, and composed scenes that emphasized the visual and audio display of emotional flashbacks.  As an artist, Van Sant creates his films within the reality of photography.  Similarity, the footage used in the film evokes real people.  While shooting “Milk”, the sight comes from actual footage of the past memories in San Francisco.  The visual composition of “Milk” presents this natural world seen throughout this aesthetic lens of power and control.  The director, Gus Van Sant, confirms, “It is mostly the same process of trying to learn from reality that we go through in the other films, of trying to understand the logic behind the things that happened. But using real people and their names in Milk was difficult because you can never really get it completely true. You are doing a play about real characters, but it doesn’t have fictional base. So in a way it’s more like pantomime, the replication of something that happened in real life with the characters called by their real names.”

Moreover, the release of “Milk” was restricted on media screenings and was kept out of all film festivals because of the demand of Focus Features.  Soon enough, “Milk” premiered in San Francisco on October 28, 2008, forming a marketing problem that Focus Features resisted to face because of the subject matter. In spite of these difficulties, gay activists called on Focus Features to pull the film from the Cinemark Theaters as part of a series of boycotts because Cinemark’s chief executive, Alan Stock, donated $9,999 the campaign.  However, Milk, recorded with a 20 million dollar budget, earning an expected $54,501,383 with making the top 10 box office list.

The outstanding film, “Milk”, represents a personal story of a historical political leader, but most importantly, a person who fought for the rights of his own people. The film is uplifting in every way.  The many morals seen throughout “Milk” symbolize the love and compassion of Harvey Milk’s influence and character. As equal human beings, who should have the realization that it is never to late to create change or make a difference.


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