Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The: 10th Anniversary Edition (1994)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Audio Commentary-Stepan Elliot (Writer/Director)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Priscilla with her pants down
Theatrical Trailer-Original Australian and US trailers
Teaser Trailer-US trailer
Featurette-Ladies Please - 1994 featurette
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1994|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (68:27)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Stephan Elliott|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, keep watching for a final joke|
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is an iconic Australian movie which was previously miserably treated on DVD. Well, get yer spangled hot pants ready because Priscilla is back and this time she's had the facelift she deserves. I would be very surprised if most people do not know the plot for this film already, but just in case, here's a brief reminder. Homophobes should probably skip to the next review now...
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) plays a Sydney drag queen named Mitzi, whose former wife invites him to perform at the hotel she is managing in Alice Springs. As he needs a "troupe" of performers for his stage show, he manages to convince his b****y friend Felicia (Guy Pearce, LA Confidential) and former "Les Girls" star Bernadette (Terence Stamp, The Limey) to join him. Felicia manages to convince his mum to buy him a second-hand coach which he dubs Priscilla - Queen of the Desert. And so we have the makings of one of the strangest road-movies of all time!
The film tracks the journey of the three drag performers as they trek across country to The Alice. Along the way they meet up with Bob (Bill Hunter) and his mail order bride with an unusual talent involving ping-pong balls. Needless to say, the flamboyant threesome raise a few eyebrows as they stumble across the hard-working, hard-drinking men of Broken Hill and Coober Pedy.
The film is a classic inspirational story of pride as the three main characters resolutely refuse to deny their own identity, despite the enormous pressures of threats of physical violence and constant verbal abuse. There are a few sub-plots involving Mitzi's coming to terms with his growing son and Bernadette's attraction to Bob, but at its core this is a simple story about friendship, love, happiness and self-worth.
The main actors all put in truly outstanding performances, from the acidic Guy Pearce and the sensitive Hugo Weaving to the sympathetic Bill Hunter. Undoubtedly for me, however, the show is stolen by Terence Stamp, who puts in an utterly credible performance as the lonely and pained transsexual Bernadette. The cinematography is striking throughout, with the wonderful desert landscapes exploited to the hilt. Once you have seen the image of Guy Pearce in a silver lame dress riding atop a bus through the Outback of Australia whilst miming opera in a huge silver sling-back , it's pretty hard to forget!
The Oscar winning costumes are breathtaking and the "camp as a row of pink tents" choreography is often hilarious. The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is probably a love-it or hate-it proposition. Either you buy into the outrageously queer characters, or you don't. As far as I am concerned, this is a modern Australian classic and one which every serious film buff should have in their collection.
The video quality of this transfer is probably as good as it is ever going to get, but is still affected by a number of problems.
At long last the video transfer is presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 which is the original theatrical aspect ratio. No more Pan & Scan travesty for Region 4. The transfer is reasonably sharp for most of the time and is free from major grain problems.
The dark scenes show reasonably solid blacks with only a little low level noise evident. Shadow detail is adequate but not particularly good throughout. Colours are well rendered and the Oscar-winning costumes shine as brightly as the day the film was shot. Despite the sometimes outrageously vivid colour schemes used, there is no significant colour bleeding evident. Skin tones are nicely natural throughout the film, except when the ladies choose to use "slightly heavy" make-up of course.
The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts, but there are some minor instances of pixelization which crop up from time to time (for example at 38:40) and some artefacting around the opening titles. Edge enhancement was present through most of the film, with some particularly heavy examples present on the official's blazer at 10:16 or around Mitzi at 38:27. This can be distracting on a larger display, but should prove less of an issue for those watching on a smaller television set. Aliasing is unfortunately a more distracting problem, with numerous examples of jagged lines and shimmer (particularly on the bus chrome and window frames). When I watched the DVD in progressive scan mode, the aliasing was still detectable, but reduced to the point where it was not distracting.
There are many significant film artefacts (for example large white scratches at 10:30, circular scratches at 18:42 and black specks at 91:34) with minor white specks cropping up fairly frequently. Fortunately, they seem to be at their most noticeable during various fade-to-black scene transitions and are not overly distracting for the majority of the film. A little bit more restoration work would have been nice, though.
There is an excellent English subtitle track for the Hearing Impaired, with the dialogue well timed and the sound effects well translated. There are only small edits for brevity. The numerous song lyrics are also included in the subtitle track.
This disc is dual layered with a noticeable layer change occurring at 68:27 at a scene change. This is slightly distracting.
The overall audio transfer is excellent and there are no significant flaws.
The distributors have done us proud in the audio stakes too, and the old Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, whilst still present on the disc, is now complemented by a couple of very good surround tracks. We are spoiled for choice with a couple of very good English audio tracks. You can choose from a dts 5.1 track encoded at 768 kbps, or a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. Both of these audio tracks are a great improvement on the 2.0 version, but the dts track has the slight edge in my opinion, delivering just a little bit more punch.
The sound is clean and clear throughout, with no hiss, pops or clicks noticed. Dialogue is always clear and the music never swamps the dialogue. Audio sync was spot on throughout.
Music plays a very major part throughout the film and the original music is credited to Guy Cross. The more dramatic moments in the film are complemented by some soaring choral vocals and nicely crashing cymbals. In the main, however, the music is courtesy of a number of tunes ranging from opera, 1940s love-songs and of course any number of gay anthems from the (almost) present day. The musical soundtrack is a major feature of the film, and it is great to hear those old disco classics finally getting the rousing multi-channel transfer they so richly deserve. This is the best you have ever heard Priscilla sound and your feet will be tapping throughout.
The front speakers provide good separation with dialogue generally well anchored in the centre channel. The surround speakers finally get a proper workout, supporting the numerous musical numbers and also providing subtle ambient effects. There is not too much in the way of localised effects, but the soundstage is generally enveloping throughout.
The subwoofer is well used to support the driving disco music and the occasional deeper bass notes - those associated with the bus engine and brakes for instance. Whilst it doesn't draw too much attention to itself, the subwoofer rounds out the great audio transfer very nicely.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras available on this 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition disc are quite numerous and add to the overall value of the package.
The main menu is nicely designed, with an operatic track and a mirror ball evoking the feel of the movie from the second the menu appears. It allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of twenty-four chapter stops, audio and subtitle set-up, or access to the following extras:
An engrossing commentary (one of the very best I have ever heard) from writer/director Stephan Elliott. Elliott never stops talking and he reveals a lot of behind the scenes detail regarding the film and the actors. It sounds like a great time was had by all during the making of this movie. This is a great complement to the film and is a must-listen commentary track.
A short selection of deleted scenes, presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 320 kbps.
A funny collection of behind the scenes footage and outtakes, running for 8:42. Presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 with the audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 320 kbps.
There are three trailers on offer, each presented 16x9 enhanced in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 320 kbps.
Despite being prefaced by an apology for the quality, this is a great feature running for 48:25 and is essentially a documentary covering the lives of three real-life drag queens who inspired some of the characters from the movie. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 320 kbps.
Numerous silent text-based screens presenting fifteen short biographies for the main actors, Stephan Elliott and various other crew members.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition does not appear to be available in either Region 1 or 2 yet.
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a marvellous film. It features some hilarious moments and some genuinely touching ones, too. The world of drag queens is one which few people will ever experience first hand, but this wonderful story provides a tragi-comic glimpse of what it may be like. At long last, for the tenth anniversary of the film's release, this DVD provides a fitting tribute to an exemplary Australian movie. For fans of the film, or collectors of Australian cinema in general, this will be a must-buy disc. Highly recommended.
The video quality is acceptable for a relatively low budget movie. It is by no means a terrible transfer, but it would have been nice to see the print restored and the edge enhancement and aliasing improved.
The audio transfer is very good, with both the Dolby Digital and dts surround mixes tracks finally doing justice to a great movie soundtrack.
The extras are a worthwhile addition to the movie, with a particularly good audio commentary track.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|