It is hard to watch a movie that you know ends sadly. The fact that The Times of Harvey Milk is still such a resounding success is a testament to its subject. Harvey Milk was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, a lovable and charming character whose immense personality shines through even in decades old footage. He was a fighter reminiscent of LaGuardia, a champion of marginalized gay San Franciscans, and a lasting source of inspiration. Its one thing to stand on solid ground and act like you have good footing, its another thing to stand on a precipice and act like you’re on solid ground. Milk was such a successful city supervisor that he very well might have continued to higher office had he and his mayor, George Moscone, not been murdered by another supervisor, Dan White. His courage and story should be an inspiration to activists of all stripes and the original documentary, which can be seen on YouTube, will be a special watch for all San Francisco-philes.
However, there is a new Harvey Milk biopic set to be released this November. Simply called Milk, it stars Sean Penn and is directed by Gus Van Sant. The film looks quite good, though it will of course be a painful watch. Harvey Milk came and went very quickly, but he was a real treat while he was here. The memory of one of San Francisco’s best should not be forgotten and I hope that this new movie, Milk, will be widely seen and that its success will prompt a new look at The Times of Harvey Milk.