Three drag queens set off on a road trip across the outback of Australia. Traveling from Sydney, their goal is Alice Springs, Australia where they have a cross-dressing performing gig, lip singing and dancing to favorite Abba tunes. With transportation by their rickety old school bus, they must power through breakdowns and small towns who are unaccustomed to the queen’s unusual lifestyle in THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT.
Wow. I am shockingly impressed with the three leads of the film. Yes, that is respected thespian Terence Stamp of LIMEY and SUPERMAN II fame. And that is Hugo Weaving from MATRIX, LORD OF THE RINGS and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. And looky there, that’s Guy Pearce from L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and MEMENTO. Never would I guess that I’d see these three men who regularly play butch characters on stage lip singing while dressed in women’s drag.
Since I believe the film relies heavily on the actors, let me introduce our fabulous performers. Tick/Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) is a little more reserved as the lead drag queen and is most of the motivation for the trip. As the most developed character we learn that he has ‘gasp’ an ex-wife who hired the group for the gig. Adam/Felicia (Guy Pearce) is easily the most flamboyant of the bunch but still grounded enough to be likable. Providing some of the biggest laughs, Pearce does an amazing job slipping into his character. Bernadette (Terence Stamp) is an older transsexual who recently lost his life partner. Not performing much anymore, Bernadette accepts the trip to help get away from things. Sometimes a step behind in the choreography, Stamp more than makes up for it by his professional demeanor his character portrays. Somber and wise, Stamp’s Bernadette is a lady that can handle him err herself.
Writer and director Stephan Elliott is obviously passionate about his story, giving great visuals through the cinematography and characters we care for through the script. This is a comedy but clearly with heart. While the elaborate costuming (which won an Academy Award) and flamboyant personalities are funny, the comedy isn’t necessarily at the Drag Queens expense. If anything it poses the question, why do people hate them so much? The characters are all kind and good-hearted but still self-aware enough to realize their differences. They understand their lifestyle is a little silly but they embrace themselves and deal with life’s challenges.
Seeing the elf Lord Elrond and General Zod in full drag singing “I Will Survive” is worth the viewing alone. But I think audiences will also be surprised to see a sweeter film than they expected. THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT is neither vulgar nor crass, but rather a charming film about people on a road trip. Those people happen to be drag queens so it makes for a far more humorous and interesting ride.
Video: (Widescreen 2.35:1) An excellent looking transfer.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD MA) While the voice recording sound a little stagnant everything is heard clearly and every sound of the rickety bus comes through nicely.
Audio Commentary by Director Stephan Elliott: He gives a very informative retelling of how the film came to be and all the trials and memories making the picture.
Birth of a Queen (29:20): Director Stephan Elliott explains how the film came to be through the casting, production and audience’s reactions.
Deleted Scenes (7:06): Four scenes with a short explanation why they were cut beforehand minus a play all button.
Tidbits From the Set (6:08): 13 different perspectives from the actors and filmmakers answering questions about the film or characters.
The Bus From Blooperville Outtakes (9:35): Several little mishaps and line flubs with a bunch of line rereadings.