"I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living."
"I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living." — Harvey Milk
The story of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk had a huge impact on me a few years ago when I first watched the Oscar-winning documentary about him, The Times of Harvey Milk. His is truly a stranger-than-fiction tale and is so full of inspiration, absurdity, and absolute heartache that it's somewhat surprising it has taken this long to create a feature-length dramatization of his life and death. I respect director Gus Van Sant's decision to memorialize and honor Harvey Milk with his movie Milk, and to my great relief, Van Sant and his exceptional ensemble cast have done Milk's story justice.
Milk picks up Harvey Milk's life when Milk (Sean Penn) meets one of the great loves of his life, Scott Smith (portrayed by James Franco) and decides to move from New York City to San Francisco. There, the two open a camera store in the heart of the Castro, a neighborhood with a rapidly growing gay population, and there Milk begins his life as a leader of the gay rights movement in the 1970s. After trying and failing twice, he is finally elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in 1977, largely due to the support of the gay community. For the first time, it becomes apparent that the gay community could be a powerful one, and Milk often emphasizes this during his time in city hall. As the country's first openly gay man to be elected to public office, Milk brings the gay rights movement to the city's attention as much as possible, earning him admiration and support along with many enemies — including his ultimate enemy, fellow supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin). For more about this and my thoughts on it all, read more