Urban Cinefile
"I think the Australian film industry is a vital one, and always has been"  -Actress, Cate Blanchett
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday December 13, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Felicia (Guy Pearce) and Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) - drag queens Adam and Tick - and Bernadette (Terence Stamp) - a transsexual - are invited to play a drag cabaret engagement at an Alice Springs resort. Each with their own problems, they grab the chance to cross Australia’s red heart and leave their troubles behind. But as their trip unfolds, it seems that getting there will be a new problem all together. Meeting a man in a frock (however fantastic that frock may be!) in the outback does not happen everyday. Travelling the outback in the lavender tour bus they have christened Priscilla, the ‘girls’ are in for an adventure that sees them continually colliding with a number of startled outback characters, and swerving from a string of bizarre and sometimes dangerous situations. 

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Unpredictable, adventurous and entertaining, Priscilla is that wonderful thing in showbiz, a unique work entirely of its own creation, but informed by the culture from whence it has erupted like a billowing silk scarf out of a brazen blowhole in a desert oasis. Despite its surface sheen of flippancy and wisecracking 'tarts', Priscilla is a warm and human story - and as writer/director Steph Elliott confesses, not at all what he intended, but the characters took charge and tamed what was going to be an in-your face, low budget shocker, into something greater than the sum of its parts. Enormously assisted by his cast and crew (every one of them), Elliott has been midwife to a movie that is so unerringly 'right' in its portrayals and in its sense of time and place (places, plural, across the outback) that the film is an icon - both for Australian filmmaking, and for the wide variations on the Australian psyche. 

This is a colour saturated film, and on DVD it's a blast for the eyes. Lizzy Gardiner's Academy Award winning costumes against the ochre and blue of central Australia are breathtakingly clear and CLOSE, on your screen at home. The cinematography (by one of Australia's finest) is both spectacular and intimate, as required, while the music - a legendary aspect of the film - takes on its full colours in this digital transfer. 

The extra material on the original 1999 DVD has text biographies of the stars and the standard scene selection facility. It also contains the theatrical trailer. But the most important extra feature is the EPK that Bill Hunter narrates, a featurette originally made for a free 30 minute spot on tv as a promotional device. And that will explain why it suddenly turns into an EPK for Muriel's Wedding, too. The double decker EPK was an Alan Finney initiative (when he was marketing boss at Roadshow), making the most of an opportunity. It includes a lively interview with producer Al Clark who points out that the key to the film is the casting against type of its stars. The EPK is also notable for a typically indiscreet interview with Stephan Elliott.

On this 10th Anniversary DVD, the new material includes some old material, Ladies Please, intended for the film’s original theatrical release. While the image quality is not as brilliant as today’s digital picture, but the content is compelling; almost an hour in the world of drag queens, including a trip to the South of France. 

But of course, the star attraction on this special release is Steph Elliott’s commentary, looking back a decade later. As always, he’s candid, revealing and entertaining. His is an intensely intimate and brutally honest commentary: Elliott never masks what he wants to say with euphemisms or politeness, and never shrinks from causing offence if that’s what it takes to be truthful to his own view of the world. 

Elliott’s track is full of substance and his own personality, all told with his innate sense of story telling. He’s an edgy guy who does edgy things and consequently he’s full of great anecdotes. It’s a star turn on a star studded DVD, one which (as he tells it) could well have been called Florence of Arabia.

Published September 4, 2003

Email this article

(Aust, 1994) Collector's Edition

CAST: Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Bill Hunter, Sarah Chadwick, Mark Holmes, Julia Cortez, Ken Radley, Alan Dargin, Rebel Russell

PRODUCER: Al Clark, Michael Hamlyn

DIRECTOR: Stephan Elliott

SCRIPT: Stephan Elliott


EDITOR: Sue Blainey

MUSIC: Guy Gross


OTHER: COSTUME DESIGN: Lizzy Gardiner, Tim Chappel

RUNNING TIME: 100 mins

PRESENTATION: Dolby 5.1; Dolby 2.0; DTS5.1; Widescreen 16 : 9 enhanced;

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with writer/director Stephan Elliott; Behind the Bus – Priscilla with her pants down; Ladies Please – 1994 featurette; deleted scenes; cast/crew biographies; hidden features; original theatrical trailer; US theatrical & teaser trailers;

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: September 1, 2003

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020