“That’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock.”
In 1994 two drag queens and a transgender woman were unleashed on the world, taking cinema-goers on a wild ride across the Australian desert. Still as enjoyable now as it was upon its release Stephan Elliot’s The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a classic Australian comedy full of heart, music, colour and sequins.
Pricilla stars Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce (fresh out of his Home and Away days) and Terrance Stamp as three friends who embark on a road trip in a run-down bus to Australia’s Northern Territory to perform their famous drag show. The movie chronicles their adventures, and the troubles they face along the way, both with themselves, and town locals who haven’t been exposed to the culture of drag queens.
The film brings with it important messages of acceptance and being yourself, no matter what; messages which are still as relevant today as they were upon the film’s initial release. Some sequences are also still incredibly hard to watch, as the homophobic townsfolk in Central Australia bully the three friends.
Through there are some tough dramatic scenes, overall, Priscilla is a fun, funky film which is incredibly entertaining. Each of the musical numbers make you want to tap your feet, and bring a smile to your face. And there is something incredibly charming and innocent about an Aboriginal man dressing up in a silver dress and joining the drag performance in the middle of the night of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. As there is something equally as cinematic as Guy Pearce perched on a giant stiletto atop a bus speeding through the desert with the tail of his frock flapping about in the wind.
Other noticeable moments include Terrance Stamp’s Bernice forming a relationship with the Australian film industry’s embodiment of the average Australian male, Bill Hunter, and the creation of the Sydney Opera House through a three part costume. All of the costumes are a standout of the movie, and in most cases steal the scenes! Costume designers Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel deserved their Oscar win for the frilled-neck Lizard leotards alone.
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a classic, and deserves to be rewatched!