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Product Overview


Studio Universal
SKU 210728731
UPC 025195048972
UPC 14 00025195048972
Format DVD
Release Date 8/22/2010
Rating Rating
Big City
Theatrical Release
True Story
Editors Note
Note MILK is director Gus Van Sant's riveting biopic about slain gay rights activist and San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk. Based on the politically resonant and thoroughly timely screenplay of documentarian Dustin Lance Black, Van Sant follows the arc of Milk's political awakening, from closeted Brooklyn insurance executive to doyen of San Francisco's Castro district's burgeoning gay mecca in the 1970s. Sean Penn portrays the film's hero, melting into the role with an affable flamboyance that is both spirited and eminently engaging. James Franco plays opposite Penn as Milk's supportive and easygoing boyfriend, Scott Smith. The couple's cheerful and loving rapport lends buoyancy to the film's overall message of hope as Milk ascends from grassroots community organizer to a galvanizing figurehead in the push for gay civil liberties. When Moral Majority crusader Anita Bryant forms an initiative to root out gay teachers and their supporters from public schools (Proposition 6), Milk is pitted in a bitter battle against fellow City Hall supervisor Dan White, played by Josh Brolin. While Van Sant does not deviate from the expository conventions that have defined other biopics, MILK sticks to biographically pertinent details that serve the film's underlying message of one man's idealism and conviction in the face of repression and bigotry.
Variety "[T]he filmmakers have crucially infused the story with qualities in very short supply today -- gentleness and a humane embrace of all its characters..." 11/03/2008
Rolling Stone 4 stars out of 4 -- "It's a total triumph, brimming with humor, heart, sexual heat, political provocation and a crying need to stir things up, just like Harvey did." 11/27/2008 p.131,Ranked #1 in Rolling Stone's 'Movies Of The Year' -- "[A] true political film. It finds its bristling purpose in humanity, not ideology." 01/08/2008 p.115
USA Today 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "MILK has one of the finest ensemble casts this year and a magnificent, career-topping performance by Sean Penn, who disappears into the title role." 11/25/2008
Los Angeles Times "Penn, as we've come to expect, is extremely persuasive as someone with a different, more offbeat kind of charisma than many of his previous screen roles....Franco is a nice match for him....It's a powerful story." 11/26/2008
New York Times "Harvey Milk was an intriguing, inspiring figure. MILK is a marvel....A fascinating, multi-layered history lesson." 11/26/2008
Entertainment Weekly "Gus Van Sant's incisive and stirring dramatization of Harvey Milk's heroic life and violent death....MILK is a fascinating film..." -- Grade: A- 12/05/2008 p.52,Included in Entertainment Weekly's 2008 Films Of The Year -- "The movie becomes a stirring primer on the participatory political process, and an unspoken exhortation to get involved." 12/26/2008
Chicago Sun-Times "MILK tells Harvey Milk's story as one of a transformed life, a victory for individual freedom over state persecution, and a political and social cause." 11/24/2008
Box Office 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's apparent Van Sant was making any and all efforts to bring Milk's story as close to it origin points as possible. The authenticity this Oregon native provides is palpable and, at times, breathtaking." 11/26/2008
Empire 4 stars out of 5 -- "[Penn] finds sufficient space amid the historical milestones to hint at the intensely private pain that underpins Milk's mission." 02/01/2009
Total Film 4 stars out of 5 -- "Gus Van Sant's earnest, lucid biopic is more than a portrait of one man. It's also a snapshot of his times..." 02/01/2009
Hollywood Reporter "[T]he first great film to look at civil rights from the perspective of the gay movement....It transcends any single genre as a very human document that touches first and foremost on the need to give people hope." 11/02/2008
Gus Van Sant
Emile Hirsch
Josh Brolin
Sean Penn
Cast & Crew
Emile Hirsch - Star
Josh Brolin - Star
Sean Penn - Star
Diego Luna - Star
James Franco - Star
Michael London - Executive Producer
Bill Groom - Production Designer
William Horberg - Executive Producer
Dustin Lance Black - Executive Producer
Francine Maisler - Casting
Bruna Papandrea - Executive Producer
Elliot Graham - Editor
Danny Glicker - Costume Designer
Harris Savides - Director of Photography
Dustin Lance Black - Screenwriter
Danny Elfman - Composer
Dan Jinks - Producer
Bruce Cohen - Producer
Barbara A. Hall - Executive Producer
Gus Van Sant - Director
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2008
Catalog ID 62105870
UPC 00025195048972
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 129 minutes
Color Color
Aspect Ratio
Anamorphic Widescreen  1.85:1
Oscar (2009) Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen, Nominee, Best Motion Picture of the Year,Danny Elfman, Nominee, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score,Danny Glicker, Nominee, Best Achievement in Costume Design,Dustin Lance Black, Nominee, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen,Elliot Graham, Nominee, Best Achievement in Editing,Gus Van Sant, Nominee, Best Achievement in Directing,Josh Brolin, Nominee, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role,Sean Penn, Nominee, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
British Academy Awards (2009) Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen, Nominee, Best Film,Sean Penn, Nominee, Best Leading Actor
Golden Globe (2009) Sean Penn, Nominee, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Screen Actors Guild (2009) Sean Penn, Winner, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review 30 years have passed since the assassination of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and, the ballot passage of California's recent Proposition 8 notwithstanding, advances have been made in the area of gay rights, although there are still many hurdles left to be cleared. Gus Van Sant points his camera back to the 1970s to capture a small series of similarities to today's climate as filtered through huge refracted differences. By imbuing the characters with humanity and personality, Van Sant avoids the obvious traps of making Milk a sycophantic tribute or a slickly made piece of propaganda. The story sticks as close to the facts as any bio-pic I can think of and Van Sant uses plenty of genuine '70s stock footage to amplify the period verisimilitude. As important as is Milk's contribution to understanding the turbulent world of three decades past, the film is equally notable for its ability to reflect how the fight for which Milk died still rages...Milk feels like an important picture, but not in a way that makes it tedious to watch. There's no pretentious sheen to the proceedings. In fact, the essential story is comprised of basic elements: the triumph of the underdog, David vs. Goliath, and the American tragedy of a strong voice silenced too soon. Knowing how the story ends merely emphasizes the importance of the steps taken to get to that point. Van Sant is cognizant of the film's political applicability to current events, but chose to release the film after Election Day rather than have it pigeonholed as propaganda whose entire purpose was to sway voters. For those who are not dissuaded by the homosexual subject matter (and it would be unrealistic to pretend that the film's potential box office will not be depressed as a result of this), Milk represents a thought provoking, cathartic, and mostly true tale of politics and courage.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 9
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review Sean Penn amazes me. Not long before seeing "Milk," I viewed his work in "Dead Man Walking" again. Few characters could be more different, few characters could seem more real. He creates a character with infinite attention to detail, and from the heart out. Here he creates a character who may seem like an odd bird to mainstream America and makes him completely identifiable..."Milk," from an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, tells the story of its hero's rise from disaffected middle-aged hippie to national symbol. Interlaced are his romantic adventures. He remained friendly with Scott Smith after they drifted apart because of his immersion in politics. He had a weakness for befriending wet puppies: at first, Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), who became another community organizer. Then Jack Lira (Diego Luna), a Mexican American who became neurotically jealous of Milk's political life. The prudent thing would have been to cut ties with Lira, but Milk was almost compulsively supportive..."Milk" tells Harvey Milk's story as one of a transformed life, a victory for individual freedom over state persecution, and a political and social cause. There is a remarkable shot near the end, showing a candlelight march reaching as far as the eyes can see. This is actual footage. It is emotionally devastating. And it comes as the result of one man's decisions in life...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.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 10
DVD, Widescreen, English, Spanish, French, Dolby, Dolby Digital (5.1)
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
A.O. Scott, The New York Times Harvey Milk was an intriguing, inspiring figure. Milk is a marvel.
Claudia Puig, USA Today Penn's Oscar-caliber transformation is breathtaking, and the saga of one man's fight for human rights is engrossing.
Clay Smith, The Insider ...the best film of the year!
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly A fascinating film -- more docudrama than biopic.
Perry Seibert, TV Guide ...a genuinely powerful political film that works equally well as a story of personal triumph.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone ...a total triumph, brimming with humor, heart, sexual heat, political provocation and a crying need to stir things up...
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe ...a beautifully made, far less conventional movie biography than most.

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