98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2004
1994 was a big year for Aussie films. PRISCILLA and MURIEL'S WEDDING came out at the same time, and both earned a cult following because of their over-the-top themes. Also, an ABBA revival was happening at that time, and these films featured ABBA music.
PRISCILLA has many funny moments, but what makes it so special is the fantastic scenery and colours - truly showcasing Australia's beautiful outback. Overall, the film is a pleasure to watch again and again. It tells the tale of three drag queens who set out across the Australian outback in an old bus affectionally titled "Priscilla". Along the way, they become involved in many outrageous situations.
DVD SUMMARY - Originally released as an awful blotchy pan/scan DVD in Australia, the film recently received the treatment it deserved for its 10 year anniversary! Yes, it was recently in it's correct aspect ratio (2:35) and given an anamorphic transfer. While this new transfer is still not 100% pristine (white flecks here and there), it is still a huge improvement on the original DVD release. It's fantastic to see this film in all its widescreen glory after all these years. The colours and scenery will blow you away. The soundtrack has also been remixed in DTS and 5.1 surround sound. This 10 Year Anniversary also contains lots of special features, which is amazing for a film of its age.
The bad news is that the new DVD (in pink packaging) is only available in Australia. I recommend overseas buyers getting hold of this version over the current American DVD. The American DVD is only letterbox transfer (ie. not anamorphic) and doesn't include the special features.
86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
A film like this sinks or swims with the casting of the leads, and luckily, all three main actors are absolutely superb. I have to confess that I hadn't really liked Hugo Weaving before seeing this film. I disliked his role as "Agent Smith" in THE MATRIX, and barely noticed his "Elrond" in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. But I liked him enormously in this one. Of the three leads, he was probably the best and most enthusiastic drag performer. I had previously seen Guy Pearce in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, RAVENOUS, and MEMENTO, but I have to say that this is probably his finest performance. I have always been a Terence Stamp fan, and I have to say that, unlike the other two actors, he makes a dreadful looking transsexual. Nonetheless, the quiet self-possession and dignity with which his character conducts herself helps Stamp dominate most of the scenes in which he appears. Interestingly, although he plays a post op transsexual, he continues in his performance to speak in a relatively deep, masculine tone. One of the most enjoyable things about the film is seeing the way that the three performers gradually change in the way they interrelate with the others.
The most brilliant thing about this film is that at no point does it succumb to the slightest tinge of self-parody or irony. The director as well as the three leads all take their characters with the utmost seriousness, so that the film ends up not being a film about drag queens, but about three individual who just happen to be drag queens, a subtle but crucial distinction.
Most of all the film is fun. There are many, many over-the-top moments, and not every one succeeds, but most do. The script is superb, the scenery striking, and the music fun, even if most of the songs are, in one sense, outright wretched.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2000
A reviewer below said the movie will leave you with "soaring spirits" -- so true! This Australian-drag-queens-on-a-road-trip-with-a-purpose flick will appeal to homos and heteros alike, assuming open minds from both camps. For me the movie brought both laughter and tears of joy -- one of those rare flicks to inspire almost universal goodwill-to-mankind in its viewers. As has been said before (but not enough times), Stamp's performance is brilliant, bringing the right combination of sensitivity, humor, and realism to a character you won't meet on the sidewalk every day. Guy Pearce is a marvelous beauty, out of drag as well as in, and he, too, plays his part extremely well. The ABBA background music complements the darkly fizzy goings-on onscreen. Though the protagonists confront challenges and enemies throughout, including among themselves, the world in which their colorful road trip takes place is benevolent enough to allow them a cheerful ending. That's not the outcome that would be expected in real life -- so let's give a round of applause to the moviemakers for departing from real life. Entertaining and uplifting, this one's a keeper.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Terence Stamp, as a Transexual...need I say more? OK...I will: "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" is a wonderful, frollicking (or is it "frocking?") Adventure. Terence Stamp (of "The Hunger") is fabulous as an aging transexual, with bitter views and a sarcastic, biting sense of humor. His fellow(ette) travelers are performers, en route to the show of their lifetime, across the desert land of Australia....bickering and cat-fighting the entire way. Some of the banter is obviously a politically incorrect portrayal of gay men--the lines are often inspired by the worst-case scenario of gay men bickering--yet, I've met a few of those guys, in real life...so, the PC people will need to suspend their sense of appropriateness and enjoy the entertainment. This is NOT just a movie for "gay culture," as some people think. Straight couples enjoy the film and there are many hilarious scenes that couples can appreciate, together. There are some very Dramatic episodes that make the film more than a Comedy and aspire to give you an understanding of the sub-culture and humanity of the characters (despite personal prejudices). Besides, let's put the Anthropological Dissertation aside and get down to the core of the matter.... "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" is a great movie!
Wait'll you see what one Lady likes to do with Ping-Pong Balls ; )
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 1999
I think I am probably the only person so far who could write an honest review of this movie. I was born and bred in Sydney, Australia (where "Priscilla" begins), I am a proud, openly gay man (not a drag queen unfortunately....couldn't afford the frocks!) and I have travelled to the country towns that the characters in "Priscilla" visited on their way to the Outback. Firstly, let me say that the movie is absolutely correct! Sydney's Oxford Street (the gay area in Sydney) is choc-full of drag queens and drag acts. Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp should have won awards for their portrayals....they were spot on. In fact, they were better than the acts on Oxford Street. When they were rehearsing for "Priscilla" they all frocked up and blended in with the Oxford Street crowd....and none of us knew! The hostilities these three drag queens face from heterosexuals on their journey to Outback Australia is all true. It actually happens. This is a damn tough country. It's where men are men and the sheep are nervous! I visited Broken Hill (briefly thank God) and was stared at and harrassed for "looking different". I felt very uncomfortable. It's another world out there, a world which I don't really want to visit again. The scenery is very beautiful, but the people (most) are narrow-minded in-breds. The Palace Hotel in Broken Hill really does exist with those horrible murals on the stairwell. And the little Greek man who manages it in the movie actually runs it in real life! I met him. It was like stepping into the movie itself! "Priscilla" was loosely based on a true story. Three Sydney drag queens really did travel by road into the Outback to do a show. Naturally things would be exaggerated for the screen, but when aren't they? I give this movie 6 stars (but there are only 5 to give) for bringing out the message that it's alright to be different....be who you are....and be proud! "To Wong Foo", you tried hard to be a "Priscilla" clone, but you failed miserably. Next time make a film with depth and heart instead of what the Hollywood moguls think gays and drag queens should be like! Footnote: The Imperial Hotel that "Priscilla" opens in really exists as well. It is a gay venue that has now become a tourist attraction because of the success of this film. They even have a cocktail bar there called....wait for it...."The Priscilla Bar". Planet Hollywood, Sydney has the stiletto shoe that Guy Pearce sits in on the top of the bus. Come for a visit Down Under....but don't forget to bring your wigs and frocks!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2000
Beyond the campiness of the ABBA tunes, the outrageous costumes, and the superficial drag queen/transsexual jokes is the story of three different stages of life as we encounter them.
We meet Tick/Mitzi, Adam/Felicia, and Bernadette (don't call her Ralph) heading out to the Outback in Australia for a gig. Our heroines have their run of the mill "adventures" on their trip but what elevates this film is the exploration of the needs of each of them.
Felicia is in his mid 20s and all he wants to do is have fun and danger. He doesnt have a problem in the world and he doesnt care to have them. His youth is not going to be wasted.
Mitzi, in his mid 30s is starting to think about being a bit more responsible. We discover that the manager at the hotel where they're due to perform is actually his ex-wife and if that weren't enough, his son is waiting for him as well. Mitzi, like most people in their 30s with children wonders if he'll be a good father.
Bernadette is in her mid 50s. She's gone past the first two ages. Her only concern now is someone to spend the rest of her days with. Luckily, she finds Bob.
In this subtle way, we're pulled in to identify with and feel for these people.
The acting was superb. Although Terence Stamp got most of the accolades, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce were brilliant as well. Despite your opinions on ABBA, you'll probably enjoy the soundtracks as well. Definately required viewing.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2001
This review pertains to the TWO (count 'em, two previous editions of the dvd). How many times is this film going to be re-released on dvd, especially without adding much of substance? The first issue was double sided and contained both letterboxed and full screen versions, though I think there were some encoding errors on the full screen version, causing the picture to "break up" here and there. The second edition did not add anything to the first; it just took away the full screen version. Now, this third version, seems to add nothing new, either. The "collectible booklet", if it matches that in the second release, is nothing more than a few paragraphs describing the film. It seems to me that a commentary track would be a welcome addition for a film that's already come out twice on dvd, but perhaps this really is just a straight reissue of the second dvd version which was released, after all, only a year ago.
As to the film, well -- if you're reading this, you probably already know it. If you don't, however, suffice to say that this is a very funny film about three men who dress up as women who drive across the Australian outback in a bus in order to perform at a bar run by the ex-wife of one of the men. Naturally, all sorts of bitchy fun and mishaps occur along their trip, as well as once they arrive. The costumes are reason enough to at least rent this dvd, if not own it outright.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Just finished watching this cult classic film, "Priscilla", and not only did I laugh through this flick, but still was touched by the sentimental storyline behind the crassness of the characters. Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce, and Hugo Weaving play ultra-convincing queens (if you don't believe me, rent LA Confidential and compare Guy's performances in both films!), ordained to travel across the country to perform in Alice Springs, Australia. Along the way, their adventures splice open the Outback in a warm and wonderful, colorful way. As I watched, I kept thinking this is what I hoped "Too Wong Foo" accomplished, but somehow missed the mark.
I found the DVD to be very pleasing all around, but with one serious flaw: no English subtitles option.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"Priscilla" is now approaching its 10th anniversary. Rather than comment on the movie itself, I'd like to pay tribute to the amazing triumverate of actors at the center of the story. Because as time goes on, it becomes more and more notable that these three appeared together.
Hugo Weaving ("Tick" / Mitzi) - Later becomes Agent Smith in "The Matrix" and Elrond in "Lord of the Rings"...i.e., only becomes a central figure in two of the largest franchises in movie-making history.
Guy Pearce (Adam / Felicia) - Later becomes Leonard Shelby in "Memento" (and robbed of an Oscar nomination) and Ed Exley in "LA Confidential" (thought he was better there than Russell Crowe). Plus, he's a legend in Australia for his 1986 - 1990 part in the TV series "Neighbours" (where, most notably) he suited up next to Kylie Minogue).
Terence Stamp - (Ralph / Bernadette) - Finest actor of his generation? Perhaps. Later becomes Wilson in "The Limey" (don't miss that), Terry Stricter (founder of Scientology-like 'Mindhead' in the under-rated Steve Martin-penned 'Bowfinger'). Also famous to US audiences as General Zod in the Superman series. Career began as 'Billy Budd' back in the 1962 (!) Peter Ustinov classic.
Also here: Bill Hunter, outstanding as usual, as Bernadette's beau "Bob." To me, Hunter was the high point of "Strictly Ballroom" (as Federation President, Barry Fife). Wow, what a great actor.
It's wonderful to see this collection of actors, especially in such risk-taking roles. Especially Stamp, whose career has been hallmarked by intensely masculine roles. He has talked at length in various venues (e.g., 'Fresh Air' with Terry Gross) about his trepidation of playing Bernadette & the freedom he felt once he pulled it off.
So, if you've never seen 'Priscilla' before or don't think it would be your cup of tea, hopefully, I've given you four reasons here to rent or buy it today.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2003
Years before Hugo Weaving ever portrayed the powerfully evil character "Agent Smith" in the three "Matrix" films or the very serious "Elrond" in the three "Lord of the Rings" films; he portrayed a dress-wearing, drag performer named "Mitzi del Bra/Anthony 'Tick' Belrose" in the hilarious 1994 Australian film, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". Joining Hugo in dresses for the film were actors Terence Stamp as "Bernadette Bassenger/Ralph" and Guy Pearce as "Felicia Jollygoodfellow/Adam Whitely". Terrence Stamp is better known for his portrayals of General Zod in the 1980 film "Superman II" and Chancellor Valorum in the 1999 "Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace". Guy Pearce is better known for his portrayals of "Det. Lt. Edmund Jennings Exley" in the 1997 film "L.A. Confidential", "Leonard Shelby" in the 2000 film "Memento" and "Alexander Hartdegen" in the 2002 remake of "The Time Machine".
The film begins in Sydney, Australia, where Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette agree to take a trip across the Australian outback to the very remote resort known as Alice Springs to perform there. To get to Alice Springs, the trio purchases a run-down bus that is large enough to carry all of their clothing and other necessities. Unfortunately, the bus isn't in great shape and not everyone in the Australian outback likes the trio. However, they meet some very interesting people including Bob (Bill Hunter), his cantankerous wife Cynthia (Julia Cortez), a boisterous bartender named Shirley (June Marie Bennett), a rough miner named Frank (Ken Radley) and a fun Aboriginal man (Alan Dargin). Memorable scenes in the film include the trio performing for Aboriginal people, the impromptu kite, Felicia singing on top of the bus, Cynthia's bar performance, Bernadette out-drinking Shirley, Mitzi ('Tick') meeting his son Benji (Mark Holmes), Tick's wife Marion (Sarah Chadwick) & Benji watching the trio perform in Alice Springs, the trio climbing a mountain in dresses in the Australian outback, and flashbacks to Bernadette's (Ralph's) childhood.
The costumes used in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" earned the film an Oscar for Best Costume Design and nine award nominations from the Australian Film Institute (AFI), of which it won two for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. Two of the AFI nominations were Best Actor nominations for Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp. Two other AFI award nominations were for Best Director (Stephan Elliott, who also wrote the film) and Best Film. Overall, I rate "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" with 5 out of 5 stars. The film also has a superb soundtrack that includes Alicia Bridges' "I Love The Night Life", Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", Patti Page's "If the Sun Don't Shine", Abba's "Mamma Mia", Vanessa Williams' "Save The Best for Last" and Giuseppe Verdi's operatic "E Strano! Ah Fors E Lui".