'The Times Of Harvey Milk' and Milk
Start writing a post
Entertainment

'The Times Of Harvey Milk' and Milk

A review and comparison of two different forms of film and storytelling of the late politician

966
'The Times Of Harvey Milk' and Milk
YouTube

The storytelling of both documentary film and narrative film have always been different. While documentary tends to portray its footage as raw and real, the narrative takes a different approach and twists the story and tends to be a focus on fiction rather than reality.

But how do these different forms of storytelling play out when the story revolves around the same subject? Such is the story of how two different filmmakers told the life of openly gay politician Harvey Milk, who was the city supervisor for San Francisco before being murdered by former city supervisor Dan White. Rob Epstein's 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk and Gus Van Sant's 2008 biofilm Milk portray Harvey as he should be, as a hero to the LGBTQ community. But who's film about Harvey stayed true, and who's story was more exaggerated?

The Times of Harvey Milk describe the lives of Milk and Mayor George Moscone, who was also murdered along with Milk by Dan White in November of 1978. It also describes the political and social climate in San Francisco, which had been rising during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and where a growing number of gay men began to move. Milk was a part of the many gay men who moved to San Francisco and is even pictured with long hair and beard dressing like a hippie. Before becoming a politician, Milk owned a camera store in the Castro district.

Footage from the documentary includes Milk, Moscone, and White. It also includes interviews with many of Milk's friends and colleagues, including a veteran who was at first prejudiced against gays until he met Milk and began to understand the political issues involved.

What moved me in The Times of Harvey Milk was the candlelight vigil that was held for Milk and Moscone after they were killed. A silent parade of 45,000 people paying homage to the man who fought for his people and his community. This scene then transitions to an angry mob after finding out that White would be given what was perceived as a light sentence for the murders.

"If Dan White had only killed George Moscone, he would have gone up for life. But he killed a gay, and so they let him off easy." This powerful quote is a reminder of what it meant to be openly gay during that time. LGBTQ people would still have a lot of fighting to do until they became accepted by society, which even today is a battle still being fought.

Dan White would eventually serve his time in jail and was released in 1984 before killing himself in October of 1985, a year after The Times of Harvey Milk was released.

The Times of Harvey Milk was released during the height of the AIDS pandemic. By the documentary release, over 7600 people were diagnosed with AIDS in the United States while over 3600 people had already died from the virus. If only Harvey Milk were alive to help fight for a cure for AIDS.

Fast forward to 2008 and the LGBTQ community has had some progression since the release of The Times of Harvey Milk. States began to issue same-sex marriage, but things like Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and Proposition 8 were just a few of many setbacks used against LGBTQ people in the United States.

By November of 2008, Barack Obama had been elected the first African-American president of the United States, and Gus Van Sant had brought Harvey Milk back to film with Milk.

The movie begins with Harvey Milk on his 40th birthday living in New York City before moving to San Francisco and going into politics. Truth be told, Milk never thought about being a politician before moving to California. The film chronicles Milk's journey into city politics, and the battles he fought for the LGBTQ community in the Castro district of San Francisco, going up against the likes of failed country singer Anita Bryant and John Briggs. The film also shows Milk's personal relationships and his affiliation with Dan White, who was at constant odds with Milk.

Milk does an excellent job of portraying the public and private life of Harvey Milk. And a lot of that can be thanked by Sean Penn, who portrays Milk in the movie. Penn shows Milk as just an ordinary man who was fighting for what he believed in and fighting for the community that he loved. Milk shows how one man spoke out against oppression, and the rest soon followed suit.

And like the documentary, Milk ends with the actual footage of the candlelight vigil held for both Harvey Milk and George Moscone. A truly beautiful ending to such a beautifully tragic movie.

When it comes down to it, documentary and narrative film have different ways of presenting a story. But how did the two tell the life of Harvey Milk?

The Times of Harvey Milk focus more on his friend's side of the story which makes the documentary biased. Some of the jurors in the Dan White trial were available for filming but were not shown at all during the final cut. However, the documentary is powerful in its vision of Harvey as a hero.

Milk focused on not just Harvey's political life, but personal life as well. We go deeper into Milk's love life with his first lover Scott Smith and the downhill relationship with Jack Lira. And a stated earlier, the movie shows Harvey as just an ordinary man who stood up for what he thought was right.

In a way, both the film and the documentary do a fantastic job of showcasing the life of Harvey Milk and what he did for the LGBTQ community. Even if there are differences in telling his story, the message is clear that Harvey Milk will go down in history for bringing LGBTQ issues into the foreground of politics during a time where being gay was unnatural. Milk helped change the course of LGBTQ history for the better.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1081456

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

687257
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

719387
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

463241
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

283697
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

426638

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

286143

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

192614
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments