Writer-Director Stephan Elliott had a certain fondness for musicals. Because no one was making great musicals at the time, he saw the need and decided to create one centered around his image of the modern musical, the drag queens and their lip-syncing acts. A fateful feather blowing down the street during his visit to Australia's gay Mardi Gras gave him the inspiration to make a film which would combine the contrasting elements of drag queens and the Outback. So in 1994, a small Austrailian picture about two drag queens, a transexual, and a bus was born and the film instantly connected with audiences in its homeland and the US. Though Terrence Stamp was already a headliner previously playing tough guy roles, Priscilla made bigger stars of Hugo Weaving who later had roles in "Lord of the Rings" and "The Matrix" and Guy Pearce who starred in "Momento." The movie's success also spawned the similar but inferior drag comedy "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar." The outrageous, color-rich costumes deservedly earned the film an Oscar for best costume design in the same year.
Elliot wisely decided not to make a mockery of the three main characters though it wouldn't have been difficult with the heavy makeup, elaborate costumes, and high heels. What we see instead are real people who have the same foibles and insecurities we all have as well as the strength to persevere and triumph in a world that doesn't fully understand them nor is willing to always accept them. Those are themes by which many minority groups including the gay community can relate. Ultimately, they find their own place and their own happiness.
Though there may be some underlying serious overtones, Priscilla is foremost a hilarious comedy with its quick and witty dialogue, plentiful sightgags, and clashes with the local townspeople. Stamp playing Bernice is great in his deadpan delivery of one-liners. At one point, he calls Pearce's Adam a "cock in a frock on a rock." Pearce plays the immature and flamboyant Adam to the hilt and manages to steal the scenes in which he appears. The mere sight of Weaving, Stamp, and Pearce in drag is enough to elicit a good chuckle and the costume designers managed to improve on each costume with something more outrageous than the one before. Pearce wears many of the most imaginative costumes sitting on top of the moving Priscilla. In the Outback, they resemble space creatures dancing and lip-syncing to the disco anthem "I Will Survive." It would also be impossible to watch this movie and forget their encounter with an Asian mail-order bride who has a special talent with ping pong balls. The marriage of Austrailia's wildlife, outlandish costumes, and hilarity culminate in the wild drag showstopper performance of dance hit, "Finally."
In his commentary, Elliot gives the origins of the movie and his choice for the actors reiterating some of the comments he makes in the "Birth of a Queen Feauturette" below.
The "Birth of a Queen Featurette" present Elliot's narrating his development as a director from his love of musicals, the idea for Priscilla, the financing of the movie, the choices of the actors and how they transformed into drag queens, the costumes and music, and the impact the movie's had. He also reveals how the award-winning costumes were made using materials purchased for a discount at K-Mart. Elliot further elaborates on the ABBA 'turd' that Felicity carries in the movie.
The four deleted scenes are non-essential to the movie but are worth a viewing for a few more laughs. In one funny scene, Bernice explains how her lover, Trumpet, gets his nickname. Another deleted scene shows how Adam can always bring unwanted attention to the group. A power outage can be painful when shaving your armpits in "outage before dinner." The last scene is an extended scene of Bernadette comforting Adam.
The "Tidbits from the Set" screen has the images of Tick and Adam in drag. Upon clicking a highlighted jewelry piece, short snippets taken when the film was made with the director and cast comes on.
The "Bus from Blooperville" simply showcases outtakes, line flubbing, and behind the scene shots from the film. Also non-essential but nice to have and watch.