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MILK - TRAILER ANALYSIS

A trailer analysis of the 2008 bio-pic on the political Harvey Milk

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MILK - TRAILER ANALYSIS

  1. 1. Milk Trailer Analysis By Alex Davies
  2. 2. Plot Summary In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. During the last eight years of his life, while living in New York City, he turns 40. Looking for more purpose, he and his lover Scott Smith relocate to San Francisco, where they found a small business, Castro Camera, in the heart of a working-class neighborhood. Then, with support from Scott and from new friends like young activist Cleve Jones, Milk plunges headfirst into the choppy waters of politics.
  3. 3. Genre In the opening moments of the Milk trailer, it becomes easy to see the genre of the trailer. Among the first 18 seconds of the trailer, it states in an inter title, ‘Based on a true story’, which indicates that the events which occur in the film would have happened in real life, which shows how the film is biographical. The trailer gives the setting with inter titles of San Francisco, 1978, which is the supposed date of when the film is set. Already, the audience knows that the film, is a period biographical drama. Other aspects which reference to the genre in the trailer, is the various shots of political moments, such as newspapers referencing changes in government and someone running for office demonstrates how the film is also a political drama. Archive footage mentioning homosexuals as ‘social deviants’ and being reference alongside prostitutes and thieves shows how the film will be about the struggles and rights of homosexuals, which ends up being a key feature in the film. From watching the trailer it is easy to identify key themes within the film, such as gay rights, gay oppression, San Francisco politics and the life of the famous politician, Harvey Milk.
  4. 4. Characters In the trailer, it is clear to see the characters which are portrayed, such as the protagonist, romantic interests, friends and the antagonist. In the opening moments of the trailer the audience hears ‘My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you’, which indicates that film will be centered on him. When the Harvey Milk says “We need one of our own in office, we could have a revolution”, depicts that Harvey Milk is a strong leader. Romantic interests of Milk are shown in extreme close-ups, which indicates sexual activity. Other characters which are shown through the trailer are Harvey Milk’s friends and advisors through his campaign to become a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. One of Milk’s friends say “I don’t do losing”, which strengthens the fact that the film is filled with characters who are committed to their cause and having equal rights as others. Another type of character which is shown throughout the trailer is the subtle antagonist, which is the man who refers to homosexuals as ‘social deviants’ and doesn’t seem comfortable with Harvey Milk. This already sets that there will be an opposition to Harvey Milk and his political views, which engrosses the audience and makes them wonder what will happen.
  5. 5. Mise-en-Scene Location and Setting In the trailer, the overall location and setting given is of the city of San Francisco, especially the Castro area. This gives a sense of opportunity and freedom towards the audience, since through the incorporating shots of people in the film, they seem open and enjoying life. The opening shot of the trailer, when Harvey Milk is talking to a crowd of people, symbolises leadership among the character. There are various shots through the trailer which show that the film is set in the city of San Francisco, such as up-angle shots of both the city and the federal building. Both of these are in a different filter from other shots in the film trailer, since they are archive footage from the 1970s since this is a period piece. This obviously indicates to the audience about the film’s time period. Another setting which is conveyed through the trailer is the setting of riots and protests. This makes the audience feel that change will happen and that something will come out of these people with signs. As well, many people protesting outside a government building indicates that this change is related to politics and ties back within the theme of San Francisco Politics and gay rights.
  6. 6. Mise-en-Scene Colour, Lighting, Makeup and Costume Through the trailer of Milk, the whole colour scheme of the film is referring to how it is a period film and is set in the 1970s. Through the costumes used throughout the trailer, it is recognisable to see how the film is set in the 1970s and uses clothes among the characters to personify the setting of the film. The common clothes worn throughout the 1970s, are bright, tight and revealing. Yet, since Harvey Milk is a politician and is running for office in San Francisco, many of the outfits he wears are considered smart attire, like suits and long sleeve shirts. In various shots, we see him wearing This is similar to the people working on his campaign. The clothes worn by Harvey’s friends are different than the clothes he wears. The specific clothes are a lot more casual, like t-shirts, jeans, brightly-colored jackets and hoodies. This shows the variety of costumes throughout the film. However, since there is a lack of female characters in the film besides Anne Kronenberg, there is not a lot of makeup construction to discuss throughout the trailer. ^ 1970s Male Clothing, these are the sorts that Harvey Milk wears
  7. 7. Cinematography In the trailer, there are a variety of shots which convey to the audience, what the film is about and what are some of the characters’ motives. In the opening moments of the trailer the audience hears ‘My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you’, there is a single shot solely focusing on him and speaking those words and switches directly to a wide shot from behind him so we the audience can see who he is talking to and later gives the audience a sense that he is in a position of power and is taking control. Establishing shots like shots of San Francisco and the Castro Area creates a landscape of prosperity for Harvey Milk and solidify the essence of freedom throughout the film. There are various times throughout the trailer where it consists of shot reverse shots, to highlight important clips from the film in the trailer, such as Harvey Milk wanting to run for office, Anne Kronenberg becoming the new campaign manager and discussing politics with Dan.
  8. 8. Editing Sound, Titles and Credits The titles and credits used throughout the trailer, consists of washed-out blue text in capital letters in front of a white background. When they are shown, they are synchronized with the orchestral music playing and with it playing it gives a sense of poignancy throughout the trailer. The music begins to become tenser when Harvey Milk receives a death threat, which makes the audience becomes more aware and conscious of the situation. In the archive footage used throughout the trailer is lightly muffled, which for effect makes it seem more authentic, than the normal sound from the other clips in the trailer.

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