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Films >> Milk (2008) >>

JFK (1991)
A political biopic that delves into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, JFK is notable both for its rich attention to historical detail and its intentional manipulation of facts to create questions in the minds of the audience. Directed by Oliver Stone, JFK spares no expense in recreating what life was like in the 1960s. From the costumes to the music, the film works to establish itself as an historical drama. And yet, it plays fast and loose with the facts in order to advance its own narrative purposes. As with Milk, character motivations are manipulated and facts flossed over so as to not compromise the central themes of the film. For students interested in exploring the role historical accuracy plays in films as well as for students seeking to understand the line between biopics and drama, this film if a worthy complement to Milk.
Malcolm X (1992)
As a film about one man's fight for the legal and the social equality of a disenfranchised class of people, Malcolm X shares many similarities with Milk. Not only are both characters assassinated, thereby robbing their respective movements of charismatic leaders but each film glosses over the more controversial aspects of their hero's lives. Directed by Spike Lee, Malcolm X traces the life of activist Malcolm X from his early incarceration until his assassination on February 21, 1965. Through the use of flashbacks, Malcolm's struggles with racism and his relationship with the Nation of Islam intersect with his rise as a social leader working for civil rights. This is similar to how Milk utilizes found documentary footage in order to show Milk's evolution form everyman to activist. As a Hollywood biopic, Malcolm X employs similar techniques as are used in Milk in order to bring this of ignored period in American history to life. These techniques include rousing speeches filmed in close-up as well as a soaring musical scores underlining pivotal scenes. Further, both films are based on well researched texts and are designed to memorialize its central characters even at the expense of pinpoint historical accuracy.
Prayers for Bobby (2009)
Billed as "essential viewing," Prayers for Bobby explores the true story of Bobby Griffith, a gay man who grows up in an ultra-conservative religious household. Told from the perspective of his mother Mary, Billy's shunning by his family because of his homosexuality leads the young man to commit suicide. His mother is then left to come to terms with her son's sexual orientation and becomes an advocate for gay rights. This film explores effectively the pain inflicted on homosexual youth by anti-gay religions. Prayers for Bobby also gives a peek into the lives of gay youth struggling, something hinted at but not fully explored in Milk. This film serves as a strong complement to Milk because it showcases the alarming trend in LGBT suicides and explains why so many of these teenagers feel as if they have no hope.
Some other biopic-related films
Blow (2001)
Bobby (2006)
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Che (2008)
Cry Freedom (1987)
Frances (1982)
Goodfellas (1990)
Great Balls of Fire! (1989)
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
Thirteen Days (2000)
W. (2008)
Some other LGBT-related films
And the Band Played On (1993)
Angels in America (2003)
Beautiful Thing (1996)
Big Eden (2000)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Cabaret (1972)
Cruising (1980)
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Latter Days (2003)
Law of Desire (1987)
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Paris is Burning (1990)
Philadelphia (1993)
A Single Man (2009)
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
Torch Song Trilogy (1988)