It was the little film that could. And a film that desperately wanted to be made by director Stephan Elliott whose inspiration for the entire film was the liberated plume of feathers from a drunken drag queen's dress rolling down the street the day following the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia. 12 days later he had a finished script.
In The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, we start with Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) – a drag queen who loves the job, but is disillusioned by the lack of enthusiasm and the violence that comes with it. A phone call for a gig from the interior of Australia sparks him to call up his dear friend Bernadette to join him in the show. Bernadette, (played effortlessly by Terence Stamp) a transsexual, has just lost her husband and to get through her grieving agrees to join Mitizi, but certainly doesn't count on the rich and obnoxiously vain Felicia (Guy Pearce) joining them.
What results is a charming little movie that has more heart and soul than any of its cast and crew realized while shooting on the road. The trials and tribulations between the passengers and the reaction from communities within Australia give it a certain depth that lacked from its predecessor To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.
It's outrageous, funny, witty, flamboyant and an incredible joy to watch. The film won the 1994 Academy Award for Costume Design – which Director Stephan Elliott mentions in the featurette found on the DVD release:
"The entire costume budget was probably about $4,000 – 5,000 AUD – we were very lucky because Tim's mom (Tim Chappell, Co-Costume Designer) works in Kmart and she got a 15% discount. So all those costumes are made on a 15% discount from Tim's mom."
(Other films nominated that year: Maverick, Little Women, Bullets Over Broadway, Queen Margot)
Other Special features included in the hot pink DVD release are:
– Audio Commentary by Director Stephan Elliott
– Birth of A Queen Featurette – which is a rather fascinating look back as Director Stephan Elliott takes us through concept, casting, shooting and the life that the film continues to live on.
– The Bus From Blooperville – self explanatory
– Tidbits from the Set – which are about 10 video clips from the cast and crew while shooting
– Frocks, Fills and Fotos Still Gallery
– Theatrical Trailer
All in all, a very enjoyable releas