The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Directed and written by Stephan Elliott
When this movie came out I think (I think) I first saw it with my mum and sister, and then I went back to see it again with Regan. It was at the old Hoyts cinema on Manners St, that old place that always felt sort of greasy and I was never that sure where exactly the theatre you were meant to be in was. This movie was definitely an education for 14 year old me, not just to the idea of cross dressing and transsexuals but also to the concept of the ping-pong ball show, so… there’s that.
I have watched it over and over again since then, and I remember that we thrashed the soundtrack when it came out. So many 70s dance hits and my favourite ever “I’ve been to paradise”…
I’d seen Guy Pearce before on Neighbours, but he hadn’t ever looked like this. His big beefy arms and his overalls with his purple paint. I had quite the crush, and watching it again now I see how incredibly annoying he is but he’s still totally fabulous as Felicia.
In addition to the stellar cast of Guy Pearce, Terrance Stamp and Hugo Weaving before he was Agent Smith and of course Bill Hunter (who is in every Australian movie by law, I think)… It’s also full of lush Australian scenery, lots of gorgeous desert vistas and close ups of weird lizards and birds.
Does it make me love the people? Absolutely, it’s totally gorgeous for lovable characters. We have the lead three who are all hilarious and full of interesting conflicts with each other. Plus over the course of the movie you find out more and more about them and secrets come out which makes the story really interesting as well the look of it.
Then of course there’s the fear: that the small towns they visit won’t be as friendly as Sydney, “No matter how tough I think I’m getting, it still hurts.” … and it does culminate in a nasty sequence in a small mining town where Felicia is attacked by some men. It’s hard to watch, but it’s also realistic and it allows the characters to bond afterwards, especially between Bernadette and Felicia who had mostly been at each other’s throats.
Bechdel test: This is sort of tricky, since Bernadette is played by a man, but she is a trans woman character who is named so I am absolutely counting it. She talks to Shirley in the pub and it’s to trade insults and then to have a drinking contest.
Felicia: [singing] A desert holiday, let’s pack the drag away. You take the lunch and tea, I’ll take the ecstasy. Fuck off you silly queer, I’m getting out of here. A desert holiday, hip hip hip hip hooray!
Bernadette: That’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock.
Marion: [to Tick, about their son] Morals are a choice, and he’ll decide his own when he’s good and bloody well ready.
State of Mind: Yeah, I love this one. It’s one of the only Australian films I can name which isn’t horribly depressing. Guy Pearce ❤ I always think of Regan when I watch it, too.