|Adventures of Priscilla Queen of Desert
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A surprise hit in America, this 1994 Australian comedy is anchored by Terence Stamp as a transsexual who, in the company of two drag queens, travels to a remote desert location to put on a lip-synch performance--to the amazement of the locals. Getting there on a pink bus named Priscilla, the trio stop and play for people all over the Outback, getting the same homophobic, bewildered responses. The weak link in the film is dialogue that seems to have been pulled from "Queer Movie Banter for Dummies," all bitchy and clich¨¦-ridden but fortunately salvaged by strong acting. The most fun comes whenever the three are performing; fans of Abba will be particularly pleased. --Tom Keogh
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert Extras
Watch Director Stephan Elliot talk about the film's iconic costumes.
An Interview with Priscilla Costume Designer Tim Chappel
| How much of costume design is your own inspiration / how much is inspired by the character?|
I rarely have creative free reign like I had on Priscilla. Priscilla was one of those rare situations where the powers that be said "Go for it". The characters are my babies. All design is meant to build character and help move the story along. Fortunately Mitzi, Felacia, and Bernardette were outrageous drag queens so that was not only easy bit great fun. Hard as it may seem, there are nuances that aren't obvious. For example when the queens are climbing Kings Canyon each of their headdresses are a distillation of their individual personalities. Bernardette is the Evil Queen, Mizti has lipsticks, rollers and pacifiers, and Felecia has Cupie dolls that are staring at themselves in little mirrors.
What is the process of physically rendering the costumes? Do you build them by hand? Work with a team? Hit vintage stores?
I usually begin by sketching roughs. Then once everyone has had their input - or cocked their leg as it seems more of the time, I do the finished sketches. These get signed off on literally becoming a visual contract. Then they get handed to the Costumier that builds a toile (a practice one). That gets fitted on the talent and we all um and ah--hopefully more ooh and ah if it's working well. Then we have a second fitting to perfect the fit and a final fitting to see the final project.
On Priscilla however I simply grabbed whatever I had around or worked out which costume could be sacrificed and started gluing and sewing and hoping for the best. If something started to break there was always the hot glue gun and a handful of glitter to disguise any lumps and bumps. The costumes were literally finished when they would tear them out of my hands.
Did any of the actors on Priscilla have any costume concerns? Was anyone concerned the costume would overpower their performance?
The actors were all good sports. Terence told us he wanted to look like Holly Golightly but he soon gave up on that idea. He actually looked quite beautiful at times I thought. There was a moment at Kings Canyon when Terrence said that something was bothering his forward and I looked over to see a single drop of blood run down his brow--whoops, with only $12,000 US there was no room for comfort.
What's the difference between cinematic fashion and street (real people) fashion? I.e., does it have to be "bigger" if it's on the screen?
There are lots of differences between what you wear on the street, on stage, or in stills. Each medium requires special attention. For example in film you have to find out what kind of film stock is being used, what kind of filters and the general visual feel that the production designer and cinematographer are trying to go for. Of course the Director is trying to convey very specific ideas and using texture, color and contrast your job is to build, along with your team, that visual statement.
The use of detail is also vital; sometimes you can't even see it but the actor will know its there and much detail, even though you can't literally see it, becomes absorbed in a more subconscious way.
In your opinion, who looked the most beautiful (lead roles) in drag, who was the most fun to work with?
They were all beauties. Guy Pearce had a background in musical theatre so he was prone to stealing the show. They were all great fun and still people I count as good friends.
Any idea the film would take off to become an enormous hit and cult classic as well as meaning so much to fans around the world?
We thought we were basically making a home movie; it wasn't until we had the 15-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival that we knew we had created a DRAG MONSTER!
Where did you get the inspiration and know-how regarding costumes? Was there research involved? How did you get involved in doing this movie?
I started with the music and let it send me in a delirious creative free fall and took notes as I spun. We got to have a buying trip to NYC in '92--WOW. I got to meet Girlina and Lasdy Bunny and all the voguing Queens--we were doing something totally different but Queens are trick everywhere aren't they.
I got involved because Stephan needed a Costume designer who could do everything: design, sew and wear--if necessary. I was working as one of a pair of male backup dancers (an "earring") for a drag-queen troupe called Glamourworld. I used to make all our costumes and we were pretty successful. We even toured Asia going to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Ho Chi Mihn city--all on DragOn Air. How funny is that?
What inspires you--what movies stand out to you as having great costumes?
It all goes in and just comes out this way. I don't consciously look for inspiration. I like to think of myself as a creative distillery.
If you could dress Oscar (of the Academy Awards) - what would you have him wear?
My Oscar was on display in Australia's National Gallery in an Exhibition called "The Sights and Sounds of Australian Film." Oscar had purple hair and a disco tube dress. I butchered a Rock and Roll Barbie. She didn't seem to mind 'cause Oscar looked roool perty!
Beyond The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
More from MGM
Stills from The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
- Girls, Girls,Girls!!!
A well written and extremely funny movie about drag queens travelling in the Australian out back. See how the girls interact with the straight world in this funny film. Great music and great wardrobe; the film won the Oscar that year for Outstanding Costume Design and you see why. Terrence Stamp steals the film as Bernadette, an aging transexual whose parade has past her by, but puts up with no ones bull.... The DVD has some great interviews with the creator and writer and you get an insight into the making of the movie. The best drag film of its kind. Picture and sound quality are excellent with nice packaging....more info
- Get the Region 2 British Release
The US release is not anamorphic. This movie BEGS for it. The Region 2 release is, however. If you are a real movie fanatic, you MUST get a region and code-free, multi-format DVD player that converts PAL to NTSC. That way, you can also watch Jeunet and Caro's hysterical DELICATESSEN in the Region 2 issue. It is high time that movie lovers rebel against the idiots that run the studios and give us third-rate access to the movies we love....more info
This is a classic transvestite movie that sheds some light on Australia's unique view on the genre. It was fun seeing the likes of Hugo Weaving, before the Matrix and Lord of the Rings series, as well as Guy Pierce, before anyone knew who he was. Of course, then there is the classic Terence Stamp, in his most unusual role. What good sports these actors are! I really admire cross dressers who boldly display their artistic use of makeup, hairstyles and clothing. This movie sensitively brings the genre to the forefront, has entertaining songs, unique show girl costumes, and of course some bigotry for our "ladies" to overcome with style. ...more info
- This movie is genious!
I bought this movie for a friend of mine. He was so excited when i gave it to him! The movie was made on a small income, but it is amazing! Its funny, charming, and its always great to see men in drag. A definate must!...more info
- A Timeless Classic in Lavender
The film offers a truly timeless look at the life of transvestites, transsexuals, gays, and straights; their families, friends, lovers, and haters. Hilarious, campy, bittersweet, biting, and witty - an artistic masterpiece for the ages. Regarding the 'Extra Frills:' For once, the ubiquitous "Director's Comments" are relevant, informative, and entertaining rather than self-centered. The backgrounds of all the lead actors are explored, an invaluable asset in such a ground-breaking film. Best-of-the-best bonus: an extended look at the Academy Award-winning costumes.... all done on a budget of approximately $5,000. And - nowhere else will you learn the secrets behind Terence Stamp's tongue, and the nickname "Trumpet."...more info
- The first and the best, still!
OK, this ins one of the first gay movies I ever saw when I came out in the early 90's. It is still one of my favorites to this day. Very rewatchable, over and over again.
Now for the review if the new edition. This has maybe an hour of extra's. Mostly a half hour interview with the director talking bout the different aspect of the making of the film. Some outtakes, a still photo gallery.
The BIG plus to this edition, the anamorphic screen presentation and DTS soundtrack. This is worth a double dip just to get the anamorphic screen presentation. This transfer looks 100 times better then the original that I own.
Still my favorite gay movie of all times. ...more info
I can understand the appeal of this film. It just didn't really appeal to me. Two fabulous transvestites and a cynical transsexual cross the outback for a cabaret gig. Along the way they grow to understand themselves, each other, and the world around them.
Priscilla has insight enough to pull its own weight, and many moments that charm with wit or sheer cheese (like the numerous wardrobe changes that occur during a single musical number), but it always seems weighed down by the sheer fabulousness (fabulosity?) of its principle characters. When they're not gossiping back and forth, they revert to serious mode and drag down the energy.
There were also many little things that made the film less than savory. Wearing stage makeup to a funeral hardly seems appropriate. Not to mention that the more makeup they wear, the more masculine they look.
Also, I've driven through just about every desert in the United States, and getting out to act intimidated by it just doesn't really happen. I realize that the Mojave is no Outback in terms of size, but there wouldn't be a road through it if the distance between settlements wasn't driveable. That's why they decide to take that convenient shortcut which turns out to not be quite so convenient afterall. Don't you just hate it when that happens? In movie, after movie, after movie, after movie, and so on and so forth?
Still the movie seems to have a knowledge of its own nonrealism that its not afraid to have fun with. A flashback of one of the queens shows him about to be molested. That skeptical part of my mind cried out "rubber duck syndrome!" (to use a term coined by Sydney Lumet). But the kid handled himself so well that the molester is likely the one who needs councilling.
Which inspires what the film itself refers to as the $ 64,000 question (I'm not just recycling the same analogies): Why do it? "I didn't really have any choice in the matter."
There, and in many other places, the film shows great insight. I would've appreciated it more ifthe characters weren't such raving queers. I have no problem with homosexuality in films, but why do all homosexuals have to be effeminate? Why, for that matter, do all effeminate males have to be homosexual (Ed Wood excluded)? This film is proof that it is possible to be just a little too fabulous....more info
- Odd in the Outback
Loved this movie, even though Guy Pearce was the only really good looking woman/man. But, all of the performances were terrific. It was sad and funny and honest. Hugo Weaving and Terrance Stamp are always wonderful....more info
- An Original
An oldie but absolutely fabulous. This movie is a lot of fun and totally original for it's time and surprisingly it stands up 10 years later!...more info
- Good Entertainment
I put the movies I like into two rather broad general categories. There are great movies, which has a small membership. Then there are good movies, which is where I put all the movies that I like which aren't "great". "Priscilla" falls into the "good" category, but is definately pretty high in that list. It's very entertaining with some drama and good laughs along the way and a great 70s Disco sound track. Plus it has some great images of Australia and "feel-good" ending. Enjoy. ...more info
- Frilly, but not extra so
This is perhaps the only decent DVD of this movie available. The previous no-extras release was pan-and-scan, but the print appears to have been a tad cleaner than the one used for this wide-screen edition. The extras are all right: The best is about how the film came to the big screen. The weakest is the oddly edited collection of outtakes. The "behind the scenes with..." extra is good, but it is clear that the interviews were each only a few seconds long and nothing like the extended commentary you'll hear on, say, a Peter Jackson extra. The audio commentary is probably the best thing going.
All in all, if five stars is a "Isnt' that faaaaaaaaaaaaabulous?!?" and one star is a "two slags at a pie bake-off", this ranks 4.5 stars. The film alone is worth it!...more info
- Tom Loved It!
One of my favorite films of all time. Funny with a message for those haters in the world....more info
- Queen of Queens
This is only the second time I have viewed this movie and although some of the dialogue is cliche, it is a good and funny movie. It deals with a gay man who was formerly married and has a son in a very sympathetic light....more info
- Pretty cool movie
I thoroughly enjoyed Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It has all the Australian charm of a Neville Shute novel but with more modern characters. I especially liked how this movie shows that families can be made up of anyone....more info
- Great fun & Understanding
This film is filled with great comedic & sensitive insight into a different world from the one most of us live in. The site gags & verbal repartee are eye catching & definitely quotable, as the 3 characters learn to live with themselves, each other & the world at large. This film is a lot of fun to watch & be immersed in, without a lot of pathos. There is a happy ending & it's nice to know that things will work out for Mitzie, Felicia & Bernadette. This is one of my absolutely favorite fims of all time & feel I need to watch it on a regular basis. I never get tired of it & like to have it on hand to pop into my DVD player at will. ...more info
I love this movie. It is really great. Well acted, beautiful costumes, fantastic music and a good story. Viva Priscilla! And now it's a musical....more info
- Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert
We first saw this film many years ago on a video rental. This version was much more interesting with the afterwards interviews. The movie was just as funny and entertaining as the first time we saw it....more info
- great movie
this really is a great movie....its an aussie flick...the characters are colourful and funny...some truly great moments in the film that make you realise that people are people and all people want is to be accepted....more info
- A movie with sense
THis movie make me think different about certain things and also was very funny. ...more info
- The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
This is a fun movie with great scenery of Australia. The costumes are wonderful and if you have ever been in the outback you have to be amazed that this old bus could carry so much costuming. You can appreciate how difficult it is to drive the old goldie up to Cobber Pedy and onto the Alice.
Just a great and fun movie.
The boys having a good time and also touching to see the son didn't hold it against his Dad but accepted him and his Mum for thier life style and preferences and loved them both.
Maybe it's time we all opened our hearts up a little.
- When is a Queen a King?
I saw this film when it was first released. I ended up seeing it several times, each time with a new friend. I finally decided I needed a DVD copy so here I am.
It was every bit as funny, and moving, as it was the first time I saw it.
I hate disco music. I still hate disco music. But there's a special place in my heart now for the sound track of this film....more info
- Always loved this movie
I went to see this movie many times when it was at the theater, and I couldn't wait for it to release on DVD. I lost that copy in a move and went out and bought it again. It's hard to believe this movie was made on a shoe-string budget, and that they could get such an accomplished actor as Terence Stamp. Hugo Weaving, also a favorite of mine from the Matrix and Rings movies is hilarious. Guy Pierce is so believable in his role. The three combine for a hilarious and sometimes emotional rollercoaster ride through the australian outback. I recommend this for anyone's collection....more info
- The Adventures of Priscilla Queen if the Desert
Everything was handled perfectly. I was sent a notice that my order was received. I received a notice when it was sent. It arrived very quickly and in perfect condition. Bravo !!...more info
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
For the three gay friends travelling across the desert to do a drag show at a hotel (owned by one of the gents wife), they learn a lesson along the way. With the backdrop of 80's club songs, I found this movie to be amusing, and a beautiful film to watch, with all the Australian scenery, and the costumes of the show'girls'. ...more info
- Camp & Crazy Cross-Dressing Road Trip to Laughter
This is not a kids' movie by any means, but that being said, this movie deserves its cult following as one of the most outrageous comedies ever to be produced and shot in the Land Down Under.
I don't know what it is about Australia that produces such great movies and actors, but the world of entertainment would be lacking without them.
If you are up for a devilishly fun romp, grab a bottle of wine and settle in for a truly funny and outrageous movie experience. Now, you may be thinking that you wouldn't like a movie about the adventures and mis-adventures of three drag queens traveling the outback in a giant pink tour bus. That is what I thought and can report I was dead wrong, this movie is simply tons of over-the-top fun ;-)
The "Road Trip Movie" may never be the same again !...more info
- Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
Excellent comedy of one transgendered friend tagging along with two rather peculiar Female Impersonators on a quest to the center of Australia for not only a show stopping performance, but a journey for the heart. The costumes are amazing and it's not any wonder why this production won the Academys Honor for costume design for that year.
Look close, you'll remember some of these stars in later or earlier roles that have taken you to other worlds and places in time!
Be sure to watch the ENTIRE movie as you will see a surprise after all the credits are finished rolling!...more info
- Laugh Your Butt Off Funny!
This is a heartwarming story of the adventures of 3 gender-bending entertainers who travel through the Aussie outback on their way to a casino gig. There is never a dull moment in their trials and jubilations as they always find a way to make the best of whatever situation they find themselves in. The costume designer should have won an Oscar for this movie because these guys have some outfits that will knock your socks off. The plot is excellent in that it portrays the most human side of these men, and the bottom line is, we're all just searching for true happiness and inner peace. This movie is so funny, you will laugh your butt off!...more info
- A very funny movie!
Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp were hilarious in this movie, as were the rest of the cast. I can see why it won an Oscar for Costume Design. Great choreography for the dance sequences as well. I have it both on VHS and DVD! Even with the raw language, it is definitely a 10-pointer in my book!...more info
- Awesome Movie
I am a BIG movie person, but I have to admit that when I first heard the title of this movie I was very skeptical. HOWEVER, this movie is now on my "Favorite Movies" list. This has to be one of the BEST movies I have ever seen in my life; it's hilarious, witty, entertaining, and brings to reality the life of three drag-queens taking on the outback ad the challenges they face. I don't think I have ever laughes so hard every single time I've watched the same movie. If you ever get the chance to watch this movie, or see it at Blockbuster...definitely see it! ...more info
The movie is comical- and I suppose that is that. I felt hidden meaning, besides comedy. There is the idea presented that we must not be ashamed of who we are and who we profess to be be, rather we should be proud. Other than that- the movie takes place in Australia- as a few drag queens get together for a long ride through the outback to destination "no where" in a big buss. Troubles occurs at almost every turn- but they queens of the desert handle it in a comical reflection of the "fem" perspective of homosexuality. I would recommend renting the movie, if available. ...more info
- Priscilla Went Runabout
DOn't you just get irritated when your parcel does not arrive and you send a mail to those odd people in the complaints division and you get the computer generated reply which then firther irritates you. I find it extraordianry that a company relying on MAIL ORDER cannot have a real person to communicate with when the MAIL DOES NOT ARRIVE. Then, the best is yet to come., after 3 complaints of non and or late receipt (fourth order in a row), they send you a mail asking you to review the product they HAVE NOT SENT YOU! Classic. You'd think that some software jerk could put a procedure in place where you don't get these irritating emnails when you have not received the product you have WAITED 31 DAYS FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well done Amazon, you have managed to make fools of yourself.
- love it
Just Watched It Again...
I've been searching high and low (obviously in all the wrong places) for this movie since I first saw it years ago! It's just as funny, and poingant, as it was then. A definite must see for the open minded...and maybe even the not-so-open-minded! But, can somebody PLEASE explain to me what's up the guy and the funny cart with the flashing blue light????
WHO knew that the guy in the movie would move on to the MATRIX my how far we have come...more info
- All the right elements....but
Acting -- brilliant. Cinematography -- notable. Script -- well-crafted and funny. Put it all together and you should have an over-the-top comedy, especially considering the subject matter. Unfortunately, that magical appeal just never reached me. Oh, I enjoyed the film and laughed at all the right parts. I especially enjoyed the sequences in the desert with the Aborigines. Terence Stamp and Guy Pearce were perfect, and I particularly enjoyed watching Hugo Weaving in the first film I have ever seen him in outside of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you follow any or all of these actors, buy the film and enjoy it as I am sure you will. Just don't expect to put the film on your list of life's most favorites. If you are like me, Priscilla will have to be happy residing in the "watched and enjoyed" category. ...more info
- xmas gift for friend
i have watched this movie yrs ago but have not watched the dvd it was an xmas gift. im sure its great...more info
- Princilla, Where Are You
The genius of this film lies with its opening sequence which leads to the girls heading off into the unknown on their way to nowhere. We are won over in the first 15 minutes and there is no turning back for us or for them. The casting is great, and three of the leads are picture perfect, but the star of the show for me is Terence Stamp, who I know as a rather intimidating heavy. Here he plays against type superbly and it works in his favor. One is especially bowled over when he drinks the the heavy barkeep under the table in the second of many hilarious scenes. They become fast friends, thus diminishing the marvelous comedic setup, but the entire confrontation is a gas. The bar full of laughing dudes adds a lot. The next great scene, of course, is the rather jolly fellow with his Singapore sling wife with a remarkable talent for playing ping ball while holding her ankles. Finally, however, I thought the film began a descent toward increasingly diminishing returns as the confrontations grew repetitive, with the girls always coming out on top. The domestic dramas didn't do much for me. Still, it is a unique and pleasing entertainment....more info