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The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (SE)
DVD disk
Jun 5, 2007 By: Jason Adams
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (SE) order
Director:
Stephan Elliott

Actors:
Terrance Stamp
Hugo Weaving
Guy Pearce

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Three Australian drag queens go on a road trip to perform at a resort in the middle of the desert.

General Zod as an aging transsexual? Agent Smith and Leonard Shelby as flamboyant transvestites? Strange things are afoot at the Circle K….
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
DISCLAIMER: Before this review, I feel like I should admit my own personal prejudices. I apologize if this offends you, but I have to stand up for the morals I was brought up with. I hate, despise and loathe disco music. And if you took out all the parts where people danced or lip synched to Abba, this movie would barely be half an hour long. Did this influence my enjoyment of the film? Probably.

THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT was an international smash back in 1994. Ostentatious drag queens may not be my favorite subject matter but I can see why it made such an impact; it’s a care-free, feel-good movie and one of the first to take its focus somewhat seriously. It mildly entertained me, but I just didn’t think it was that good of a film.

PRISCILLA’s main strength—actually the entire movie really—is its characters. Terrance Stamp may make for the most disturbing-looking shemale ever, but his dry, regal delivery fit the character of Bernadette/Ralph well. It was tough not thinking L.A. CONFIDENTIAL or THE MATRIX any time Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving were on screen, but after a few minutes they effectively disappeared in their performances.

While the characters are fairly strong, I wasn’t too sure about the film’s point. It deals with obvious themes of prejudice and acceptance, but then the trio goes to a small, rural town dressed in outlandish drag queen outfits. What do they expect; people not to stare at them or make comments? (Do you wear a giant lizard costume for any reason other than to stand out?) It also doesn’t help that the characters themselves engage in fairly stereotypical “fabulous” behavior, including clichéd group renditions of “I Will Survive.”

Even if you do buy it as a character piece with a message, nothing really happens until the final act of the movie. There isn’t a plot other than Priscilla needs to get from Point A to Point B, with fairly little of consequence in between. Dancing with aborigines…great. Prejudice in one small town…got it. Prejudice in another small town…okay. The Winona Ryder ping pong ball trick… well, that was awesome, but still kind of random.
THE EXTRAS
While I’m not exactly thrilled about having a bright pink DVD case on my shelf, I suppose it fits the film’s aesthetics. There’s a fair amount of extras on this single-disc Extra Frills Edition.

Commentary by director Stephen Elliott: Elliot claims at the beginning that it’s been almost 10 years since filming, so this commentary must be a few years old. The man talks pretty much non stop, so if you’re a fan of the movie you’ll want to listen.

The Birth of a Queen (29:18): An informative half hour of Elliott discussing all aspects of the movie. Coupled with the commentary, you’ll know all you want to possibly know PRISCILLA. The movie features a lot of music, but I never really considered it a “musical” in the 1950’s sense, but apparently the director does.

Deleted Scenes: Four short clips (about five minutes total) and not so great quality.

Tidbits from the Set: Thirteen short (~30 second) behind the scenes clips, including an interview with Terrance Stamp in character as Bernadette talking about why Terrance Stamp is so attractive. Yes, I’m scarred for life also.

The Bus from Bloopersville (9:35): This is more like raw footage from the set than a “ha ha, we messed up!” gag reel.

A Photo Gallery and Trailers.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
“It’s a kind of deranged transvestite version of APOCALYPSE NOW with just a hint of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.” That’s how one of the film’s producers describes THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT on the DVD, which makes the movie sound a lot more exciting than it is. I know this film has its fans, so if that’s you then you’ll no doubt like the extras this DVD has to offer.

Extra Tidbit: Stay tuned for a very odd coda at the end of the credits.
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