I’m hesitant to say The Times of Harvey Milk is a perfect documentary, because that’s a lot to say about one movie . . . but I think it happens to be true in this case, at least to me.
The Times of Harvey Milk is presented in my favorite way for film documentaries, that is without a “host” or main on-camera documentarian. There’s a narrator, Harvey Fierstein, but there’s no one person on camera running the show. That works in some cases, but I generally prefer to let the story do the talking.
I saw Milk when it came out, and before that I really didn’t know anything about Harvey Milk except his name. I thought it was great, and I actually think it’s even better now that I’ve seen this documentary. But Milk mostly focused on Milk’s activism (if I remember correctly) and what he did for the gay community in San Fransisco, which makes sense because that’s obviously what his legacy is. But what The Times of Harvey Milk did was show just how important of a politician he was to everyone he represented, not just gay people. It showed how passionate he was for everyone around him and that he got into politics to help everyone, not just to further gay rights. It in no way downplays anything he did for gay people, it just sort of gives a broader view, which I loved because it showed how much he meant to all people. One interview with a guy involved in Milk’s campaign was particularly interesting, because he expressed how he didn’t give Milk much thought at first because he was gay, but once he learned Milk’s views and saw how he acted on them, he pretty much loved him and thought it was sad that there were other people who might not have given him the time of day solely because he was gay. His interview was just such a nice way to illustrate the whole point of the documentary.
Another thing The Times of Harvey Milk has going for it is that it covers so many well-documented events that happened less than 10 years before it came out. Dan White hadn’t even killed himself yet when this came out, which is crazy to me because it sort of puts it in context of the timeline of actual events. It was just so interesting to watch this from the perspective of it being somewhat current events, rather than history.
This is one of those few movies I think I would honestly recommend to anyone. It really is well done.
This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. We came across this on Hulu plus, worth having just for the Criterion list, and having seen Milk when it came out I was interested to see exactly what did happen in his life and the events that led to his shooting. What I love most about this movie is how informative it is. The movie talks about Harvey, how he got started in politics, his time in politics, and his death. For everything except the actual shooting, they had footage of everything. Whenever people talk about events there is video footage of it, or at least photos. I just really love that everyone around him knew what great things he was doing and knew it needed to be documented. Now, I guess I don’t have proof of that but that’s how it felt.
Also, it’s crazy to me how close Sean Penn looks like Milk. Like I said I had seen that movie but that was the first time I knew who Milk was and I really didn’t research it after. It was nice to see real events and people talk about their experience knowing him.
This movie is only an hour and a half and does feel like a school video but like I said I could watch this again today. If you have not seen it please watch this!!!!!