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What to Netflix: The Times of Harvey Milk

Okay, all you documentary fans, have I got a recommendation for you. The Times of Harvey Milk, winner of the 1985 Academy Award for Best Documentary, left me speechless and filled with mixed emotions. In the 1970s in San Francisco, good-natured camera store owner Harvey Milk was elected onto the board of city supervisors, becoming the first gay city official in the U.S.

At a time when civil rights were still at the forefront of peoples' minds, Milk, along with his colleagues and friends, worked hard for tolerance. Among other things, Milk fought to make it illegal to fire teachers based on their sexual orientation. This was a huge win for Milk and his supporters, and his career at city hall was picking up speed.

At the apex of this success, however, Milk was shockingly assassinated, along with the mayor at the time, the highly respected George Moscone. The murderer was a fellow board member whose defense claimed, among other preposterous things, that he was rendered insane from eating too much junk food. That's not nearly the end, however, so

This story is so intriguing and sad that it made me wonder how I'd never heard about it, and here's why: Milk's murder occurred almost immediately after the story broke about the Jonestown massacre, another San Francisco-related tragedy in which approximately 900 people died (which became fodder for another jarring documentary). Thus, Milk's story garnered very little press.

The whole thing seems too crazy to be true, and sure enough, there is a Hollywood movie in the works, The Mayor of Castro Street, helmed by Superman Returns director Bryan Singer and scheduled to come out in 2009. Before then, though, check out The Times of Harvey Milk.

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Mongoliangirl Mongoliangirl 8 years
In '89 I was 21 and, by chance, caught the '84 documentary about Harvey Milk. It was amazing to see such a documentary being shown on a southern Missouri television station. Though I cannot say I've ever been anti-gay, I had been raised around serious anti-gay sentiment and had lots of questions about gay rights at the time. Thank goodness that southern Missouri station took the risk of showing that documentary and, therefore, took a risk on me. I admit I cried my eyes out and realized I had been asking the wrong question all along. The question, I discovered, is NOT, "Should (whatever group) have equal rights?" The question IS, "Since we all have equal rights, how can I be part of making that fact a reality?" It is true that a 90 minute documentary can change a life. I cannot wait to see the movie! Thanks!
ligaya ligaya 9 years
I wonder if Bryan Singer is interested in doing the Hollywood version because he's gay. I think he could do a great job, and I hope the movie turns out great and more poeple find out about Harvey Milk. My husband and I saw this documentary on the big screen when it first came out. It's one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, and I've seen lots of documentaries. One thing to watch for is Councilwoman Dianne Feinstein, who became acting mayor when Mayor George Moscone was murdered along with Milk. We know her now as the senior Senator from California.
tralalala tralalala 9 years
Ugh....I would probably see the Hollywood version if Brian Singer wasn't involved. He's the definition of a very bad man. haha
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 9 years
The old "Twinkie Defense." I remember learning about that. I love good docs. I'll have to check this one out...
nancita nancita 9 years
This is a really great film. I'm very interested to see the big-screen Hollywood treatment too.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Thanks for the recommendation, Buzz. Just updated my Netflix list.
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