The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

66° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

    Van Sant’s Stirring Biopic

    “Milk” is a film that every film should strive to be. It was compelling, educational, interesting, and entertaining all at once. I learned a lot about American history, particularly the concerns and state of homosexuals in America in the 1970s. Real footage of gay men being arrested in bars accompanied the opening credits, setting a shocking tone of a depressing reality.

    I think it is a travesty that I learned more about the political and social hardships of the gay community watching this movie than I did in a history class. I couldn’t help but wonder if the decision to keep political issues like Proposition 6, an initiative banning homosexual teachers and their supporters from teaching in California public schools, or figures like Anita Bryant, the famous religious singer who vigilantly opposed the 1977 civil rights ordinance that made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in Dade County, Florida with her infamous Save Our Children Campaign, were purposefully kept out of textbooks. Both of these issues were explored quite well, and I am assuming, quite accurately in this movie. Director Gus Van Sant also included actual media footage of both of these cases as well as footage of the gay community in the 1970s. The inclusion of this footage is important in that it emphasized that all events in “Milk” actually happened and that it isn’t an exaggeration of history.

    Sean Penn did a terrific job portraying the first elected politician who was openly gay, Harvey Milk. My one bone to pick with him was that his accent was a bit hard to understand at times, although this accent and other mannerisms only made his portrayal of Milk more real and less a put-on. He was joined by a stellar cast, all portraying real people who are still advocating for gay rights today. Milk was a truly inspirational person, particularly since he had many obstacles standing in the face of his dream to make a difference in politics. I couldn’t help but think about Barack Obama watching this film. Obama and Milk are both figures that speak to their respective minority communities (as well as other communities) and they inspire young people to speak out and not let barriers stand in their way.

    I am not usually extremely affected by movies that are distant from me personally or emotionally. However, “Milk” was extremely compelling and thought-provoking and I continue to think about it to this day. I can only hope that we will continue to educate people about the history of gay rights, and that films like “Milk” continue to be made.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *