‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the desert’ is a 1994 Australian comdey-drama movie, written and directed by Stephan Elliott. The plot follows two female impersonators, played by Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce and a transgender woman, played by Terence Stamp, as their journey across the Australian outback from Sidney to Alice Springs in a tour bus.
Along the way they learn various perspectives by various individuals and groups. Its running time is 103 minutes. This movie wins GLAAD MEDIA AWARD (1994) for outstanding film, GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARDS HISTORY ( 1994), OSCAR, BEST FOREIGN FILM (1994) etc. The film tries to point out the humiliation process that a female impersonator goes through for his occupation.
Anthony Belrose, a drag queen decides to accept the opportunity to perform in ‘Alice Springs’, arranged by a special person. He convinces his other two companions, Bernadette Bassenger and Adam Whitley to go with him. In their journey many twists unfold slowly. This film was surprisingly hit in its time and even represented in ‘1994 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL’. This movie reflects the positive aspect of LGBT community against the odds. However this movie becomes a cult classic not only in Australia but worldwide, making it easier for the LGBT themes to come into the mainstream cinema.
Hugo Weaving, playing Anthony Belrose represents his powerful presence in the film through this character. He artistically depicts the layers of the subconscious mind of a female impersonator which can be best exemplified in the scene where he decides to sell the ‘beauty products’ in order to be accepted and become relatively gets easier to them.
Another protagonist is Terence Stamp, playing Bassenger, who symbolizes the confidence and elegance of a transgender women’s character. In the movie he realistically represents the everyday struggle of their lives. Comparing to both these characters Guy Pearce’s Adam Whitley is a light flamboyant character who lives every moment up-to-the-mark and exaggeratively. The emotional transformation of a transgender woman or a female impersonator is depicted sincerely in this movie with full respect. The music of the movie is given by Guy Gross – “I’ve never been to me” by Charlene, “I will survive ” by Gloria Gaynor, ” Finally” by CeCe Peniston and “Mamma Mia” by ABBA. The music is well suited the theme, it often focuses on a serious note and often reflects the quirky sides of the characters.
Most of the scenes are around the bus and desert. The cinematography is beautiful, the ‘Simpson desert’ and the dawn is beautifully captured by the camera. The dance sequences and the special ones by Whitley is captured so exquisitely that it have a dream-like vision so glittery and so amazing. The starting of the movie is little bit disorientated, it feels like the movie starts abruptly, when Belrose starts his performance as a female impersonator, it takes a moment to understand the situation. Also the second half of the movie where they perform at Alice Springs it speems anti-climactic as it lacks the dramatic climax.
The story of the movie is very much relevant in present times as it shows the everyday struggles of a female impersonator or a transgender even. The director Stephan Elliott represents this biased reality towards the LGBT community with a master stroke in two scenes – first in a scene where Belrose, Baseenger and Whitley’s performance, dressed in female attire, is ignored by the performance of other woman only because she represents herself in a more sensual and vulgar way than them. Director here probably wants to point out that though the performance of three of thm is much more better than that lady in content but still they gain no recognization but the lady with her nudity gains.
In another scene where Whitley goes to a party, dressing up like a woman is harassed and mocked appearance. Also the director tries to establish a sense of confidence and elegance through the character of Bassenger. She symbolizes the personality of a confident brave and mature woman.
Overall, the film is a cult classic in respect of content which focuses on the struggles of LGBT community and this is a novie which brings forefront such delicate issues in a commercial movie.