The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast
Featurette-Three Drags and a Wedding
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 98
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephan Elliott
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Terence Stamp
Hugo Weaving
Guy Pearce
Bill Hunter
Case Center Circle and Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Guy Gross


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English MPEG 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a hard movie to categorize; it has many elements of a road movie, it has elements of a musical, it has elements of comedy and it has elements of drama. It tells the story of two drag queens, Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Felicia (Guy Pearce) and a transsexual, Bernadette (Terence Stamp) who, for various reasons, decide to take a trip to Alice Springs on a bus, which they name Priscilla.

    Mitzi has a wife who owns a hotel in Alice Springs. She has requested his help whilst she takes a holiday. Bernadette has just lost her husband, Trumpet, and is moping about the place in Sydney, so wants to get away from the area. Felicia is, well, Felicia.

    The majority of the movie revolves around the trip up to Alice Springs, and the various shenanigans that the trio get up to along the way, like for instance their stopover in Broken Hill in full drag outfits, and their adventures after Priscilla breaks down in the middle of nowhere when they meet Bob (Bill Hunter) and his wife Cynthia (Julia Cortez).

    They make it to Coober Pedy with Bob's help, but they find that Coober Pedy is less tolerant than Broken Hill and they have to beat a hasty retreat. They do, however, finally make it to Alice Springs in time for their shows, and for a number of surprises.

    Along the way, we enjoy cat fights, snappy one-liners, hissy fits, great visual juxtapositions, and loads of fun. The end credits have a few little humorous entries to enjoy, so make sure you watch this DVD all the way to the very end, or you'll miss the extra bits.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is one of the worst DVD transfers I have seen to date. However, it can still be classified as "fair" rather than "terrible". Pretty much every type of artefact is present in this transfer to a greater or lesser extent. The transfer is presented as a Pan & Scan transfer (aspect ratio 1.33:1 or 4:3) though the opening and ending credits are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, letterboxed (non-16x9 enhanced). There were numerous scenes where it was clear that significant picture information was missing from the transfer because of its Pan & Scan nature. A transfer in the original aspect ratio would be much preferred. I note that the Region 1 version of this title is a dual format disc, Widescreen and Pan & Scan.

    The transfer was generally quite clear, though not as crisp as I am used to seeing from other DVDs. Shadow detail was lacking in a number of scenes, and some of the blacks were more of a dark grey than black.

    The colour was generally a little muted, and despite the colourful costumes, the rendition of colour in this transfer could hardly be described as vivid. Low lit scenes tended to be oversaturated.

    A few MPEG artefacts were seen, generally involving scenes with a lot of greenery (e.g. 6:23-6:33). A number of  film-to-video artefacts were seen; telecine wobble was present intermittently, and aliasing was a significant problem in any scene involving exterior shots of the bus and in a few other scenes as well. The aliasing was probably the worst of the artefacts because it was frequently present. There were only a few film artefacts, but a reasonably prominent film artefact is present at 90:58.

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default audio is English MPEG 2.0 channel audio, surround encoded. Also present on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack (which is the track that I listened to). The soundtrack was encoded at an unusually low level, and I had to listen to the soundtrack at a significantly higher volume setting than usual. I note that the Region 1 version of this title has the same 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack rather than a 5.1 remix.

    Dialogue was usually clear and intelligible, but not as clear as can be expected from a 5.1 soundtrack.

    The musical score is vibrant and fun with many songs that you will recognize.

     The surround channel was used many for the music, with very occasional ambience placed there. Dialogue was mostly up-front. Because a lot of the movie has music either featuring in, or underscoring the action, the surround channel was frequently active, though not at all spectacular in its use.

    The .1 channel received the subwoofer output from this soundtrack, important for some of the music. Generally, however, there wasn't a great deal of information present in the low frequencies.

Extras

    There are numerous extras on this DVD.

    The theatrical trailer is present, presented in an approximately 1.66:1 aspect ratio, non 16x9 enhanced, with an MPEG audio track only (no Dolby Digital soundtrack). This sounded mono to me.

    A 28 minute featurette, entitled "Three Drags and a Wedding - The Making of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Muriel's Wedding" is the highlight of the extras. It is narrated by Bill Hunter, and goes into moderate detail about the two movies, including clips and interviews from both movies. The featurette is evenly split between the two movies. This is presented with an aspect ratio of 4:3, with some of the movie clips in 1.85:1 letterboxed format and others in Pan & Scan format. This also comes with only an MPEG soundtrack, which sounded mono.

    Finally, cast biographies for Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp are present.

    As always, Village tend to put a few more extras on their DVDs compared with Columbia Tristar and Warner Brothers, and they are to be commended for this.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this title is presented in the correct widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but is not apparently 16x9 enhanced. It also misses out on the very good featurette. Nonetheless, the Region 1 version is clearly the version of choice.

Summary

    The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a most enjoyable film which works on several levels, not the least of which is the excellent interaction between the three stars.

    The video quality is acceptable if you really must own this disc, but far from the quality we currently expect from DVD transfers. Numerous artefacts mar the transfer, none of which are particularly bad, but they are there nonetheless. You may consider the Region 1 version of this disc as it has both the Widescreen and the Pan & Scan presentations on the one disc.

    The audio quality is perfectly acceptable, though somewhat more front-and-centre than is usual in current films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Monday, November 23, 1998
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

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The Fourth Region - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Switched On DVD - Ayron C

Comments (Add)
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. - JANE SOMERSET