I am SO excited about and looking forward to this movie. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to a major political office in the U.S., is a huge hero of mine. Now a whole new generation will learn about his vision and his courage. And maybe some will even internalize some of the truths that Harvey gave his life to share with the world.
In the preview video — which took my breath away — Sean Penn’s Harvey and Josh Brolin’s Dan White are so realistic it’s scary. And there aren’t a lot of directors that I would trust implicitly to bring Harvey to life, but fortunately one of them, Gus Van Zant, made this picture.
If you are not acquainted with story of this martyred civil rights pioneer, you should use the time until this fictional account comes out (sometime in November) to check out the biography written by the late Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street, and the Oscar winning documentary film, The Times of Harvey Milk. I’ve watched that film over 20 times, and I still cry every time. The silent vigil down Mission Street on the night of his death is something every citizen should see, and every activist should study. It symbolizes the very best of America in response to the very worst.
Some works of art are timed perfectly, either by accident or design, to provide an emotional and social lodestone in a culture. If Barack Obama wins this election, and he seems poised to do so, I think we can begin a new, positive and exciting chapter in the American story. Harvey Milk opened such a chapter years ago, and the film can help provide a reference point, a political roadmap of sorts, as we go forward into the future with our first black president.
Harvey talked repeatedly about the importance and power of hope, but it was more than just talk — which is why he was successful as a leader. Just like Obama. Opponents criticize such collective energy at their peril, now, as then.