On Jan. 6, 1984, Dan White was released from prison on parole after serving five years, one month and nine days for the killings of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS (WON): Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. OTHER NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin), Best Director (Gus Van Sant), Costume Design, Film Editing and Original Score.
STORYLINE: Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces the career of Harvey Milk (Penn) from his 40th birthday to his death. He moves from New York to San Francisco, where he becomes a voice for the gay community. After losing city and state assembly races, he becomes the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected to political office when he wins a supervisor seat in 1977. Milk’s political agenda are at odds with that of Dan White (Brolin), another newly elected supervisor, and that puts their destinies on a collision course.
NOTES: The first lines of the movie are from Milk’s recorded statement: “This is Harvey Milk speaking on Friday November 18th. This is to be played only in the event of my death by assassination. During one of the early campaigns, I started opening my speeches with the same line and it sort of became my signature… Hello, I’m Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you.”
The last lines: “I ask this… If there should be an assassination, I would hope that five, ten, one hundred, a thousand would rise. I would like to see every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out – - If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door… And that’s all. I ask for the movement to continue. Because it’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power… it’s about the “us’s” out there. Not only gays, but the Blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s. Without hope, the us’s give up – I know you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. So you, and you, and you… You gotta give em’ hope… you gotta give em’ hope.”
TRIVIA: Thousands of people agreed to take part in the film as extras for free … The apartment that was used in the film is the real apartment Harvey Milk lived in on the Lower Haight in San Francisco … Josh Brolin doesn’t appear until 45 minutes into the movie. – IMDb