Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The cover fits the movie, so I like it. I don’t love the AMERICAN CLASSIC emblazoned across the middle. The menu is fine, standard Blu-Ray offering, therefore I don’t have much to say about it. Overall the package is just right for this class act of a movie. Sometimes you have to let the film speak for itself.
- Remembering Harvey: Meet The Man Known As Milk – All of these extras are pretty similar to one another. They feature the real people behind the story. This one is all about their recollections of Harvey as he was and how he’s portrayed in the movie.
- Hollywood Comes To San Fransisco – Using the city featured in the story is a key to authenticity, and this is how they worked it out, from the streets to the studio.
- Marching For Equality – The people who were there in the 70’s fighting for equal rights, marching in the streets, they are featured in this extra. They discuss the real events, and their roles in the movie are highlighted.
- BD-Live – 3 deleted scenes are all you will find at this time.
The Movie: 9/10
A story about a man who stands up for what he believes. I’m a fan before it even starts. This movie tells us the happenings of Harvey Milk’s political life as a gay man in the 70’s in San Francisco. He runs for office on a lower level, failing several times, and then parlays his talents, his group of friends and activists, and resources into a win becoming the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America.
What he did with his public role was more than just BE the first gay man elected. He pushed people in his charming unassuming way, to see the inequities of how gay and lesbians were viewed, treated, and discriminated against.
The film shows glimpses of his deeper personal life with his relationship with Scott, played by James Franco. But overall, we are more drawn to the surface of what he was doing politically. His struggles with local politicians. His ongoing dialogue with a specific politician played by Josh Brolin. Franco and Brolin, by the way are excellent, as always. I felt like a great restraint was put on digging into his personal life, which is a good thing when the true message of Harvey’s life is that we need to treat each other with respect regardless of our sexual orientation. To show more about the man himself would be a disservice to his accomplishments.
Sean Penn, well, I think everything that can be said has been said. He’s captivating to say the least. A truly great actor who I hope to be watching through the rest of my days!
As the story unfolds, the ups and downs of what Harvey is trying to achieve, mixed with his antics and often self driven public spectacles, begins to change the world. Homosexuality is something cultures have and probably always will have as an issue to debate, disagree about, factions to judge, and others to rally behind. This time in our history, Harvey Milk brought it all crashing to the front of the line for us to look at and from what I gather in the movie and from living in that time period, he did change our perceptions.
It might have fractured some off into extremists groups both ways, those opposed to equal rights for homosexuals, and those who rise up to demand equal rights. Either way it brought a true human side to what was an unnecessarily somewhat hidden group of people.
The movie is top quality from start to finish. I got a true sense of the reality of the story with news clips, images of the city, and other throwbacks to the time and place. It looks amazing, the sets, costumes, even the streets of San Francisco are brought back to the 70’s with a kind of detail that makes a film that much more of an experience.
Overall I am impressed, enchanted even by Harvey Milk’s story. I recommend this movie to anyone! It is a classic.
Audio & Video: 9/10
Milk uses a variety of different film techniques, including documentary footage from the 1970’s, so it comes across as a mixed bag on Blu-Ray. Surprisingly though it all holds up really well. The film has a fine film like grain on all the Van Sant filmed scenes that makes these parts fit with the rest of the footage. There are a couple of instances of murky blacks but these are few and far between. Special note goes to one scene that uses a filter on the video to make it look as though its a TV broadcast. It’s the most “Hi-Def” looking footage I have ever seen.
Only one audio option is available, a DTS-HDMA uncompressed track that works rather well. The most impressive scenes are when Harvey Milk delivers his speeches to large crowds. The ambiance in these scenes really makes you feel like people are all around you. Universal have been doing a fine job of HD Audio soundtracks recently and Milk is no different. I highly recommend this movie. It stays with you after your have seen it which to me is a good thing.
I want to own this movie. That’s right, own. I don’t care about the Blu-Ray thing or what format I get it on, I know I will watch it again. The prices are still higher than I want, almost $30 for Blu-Ray and right around $20 for DVD. I’m a sucker for an excellent movie though, so I can always give up food for a few days:)
Overall Score 9/10