A blog for all lovers of film!

Review: The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 1984)

The Times of Harvey Milk

Version watched: UK Criterion Collection Blu Ray

The Times of Harvey Milk is a documentary about the rise, election and subsequent assassination of gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, comprised of news and archival footage, and interviews with those who knew him, narrated by Harvey Fierstein. The decision to open the film with footage of the announcement outside San Francisco City Hall of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone’s assassination is particularly powerful, the shock of the moment is palpable.

The film eloquently and comprehensively charts the political career of Milk, and the effect he had on his friends, and those he served, in his painfully all-too-short time in office. The interviews helped to paint a picture of Milk’s influence and character, and effectively rendered the realities of the plight of the minorities whose causes Milk championed. One interviewee, a straight white union leader in Milk’s district at the time, was notable for his forthrightness: although he used objectionable language and terminology at times, his honesty was admirable in admitting that, if he had not met someone like Harvey Milk himself, his bigoted views would have persisted. His journey towards acceptance of the gay community makes it clear how important it is to be open to others, to be empathetic towards their lived realities and willing to listen. Ignorance can be overcome.

Feelings of friendship, admiration and love give way to grief, first quiet and solemn, then righteously angry. This film made me angry too. I had heard of Harvey Milk before, and knew he had been assassinated, but had no idea about what happened afterwards. It was absolutely outrageous. That a film made in the 80s, about events that happened more than 40 years ago, can resonate so clearly and sincerely today, is testament to its power and quality.

I just hope that as a society we can move forward in the way Harvey himself had hoped: “If we learn from history, the struggle goes on. Eventually we will win. All the Governor has to do is turn the pages of history a little faster. ”


Film available to buy here.

Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles:

Juzo itami

Where To Start With Juzo Itami

If you have ever been interested in watching the films of Juzo Itami but have never been sure where to start, this list of three recommendations is sure to be immensely helpful!

Read More »

Film Positivity

film blog

Welcome to Film Positivity. A blog about film where you can expect to see writings about some of our favourite films, what we love about them and why, as well as posts about new physical media, be it Blu-Rays, books, or whatever else.

If you would like to be featured on the site, click here!

Hot Posts