Elliott blurted out the script of two drag queens and a
transvestite crossing the Australian desert to do a show in Alice
Springs, in a single week. But the movie did not turn out as he
intended: it is a "sweet yet ascerbic" film, which is
not what he set out to make. "When I set out it was going to
be colder and tougher, it was going to be hard nosed, with a doco
feel - an in your face film. It just softened up," he says.
"My gritty doco became a likeable movie - I saw it happening
and went with it."
The title role of Priscilla is played by a bus, and it, too,
is in drag of sorts, being painted pink to hide some ugly
graffiti that anti-gay vandals sprayed on its side. If the bus
gives a mechanical performance, the three actors playing the
central characters do not; they contribute much to the process of
softening up the film, which in turn gives it a considerably
broader appeal: it is more touching than could be expected.
Hugo Weaving (Proof, Reckless Kelly, The Custodian, Frauds)
and Guy Pearce (Heaven Tonight, My Forgotten Man) as the drag
queens give Elliott everything he could and did ask for, while
Terence Stamp as Bernadette lends weight to the film as a
somewhat tragic transvestite, underplaying to great effect.
(Watch him/her and Bill Hunter toying with an affair !!)
Despite the modest budget, the film offers spectacular desert
locations, close ups of exotic Australian wildlife, clever and
effective wardrobe, make up and production design, plus the
occasional flights of fancy - such as the spectacle of Pearce in
drag (looks gorgeous!) perched atop the speeding bus in flowing
chiffon, miming "E Strano! Ah fors e lui", from La
Traviata, as the desert slips by.
MIDNIGHT SCREAMING AT CANNES
Priscilla was selected for a special Midnight Screening at the
1994 Cannes film festival, an entirely appropriate slot for the
film. Elliott and entourage (including Terence Stamp and Guy
pearce) made a great entrance, and the steps of the Palais des
Festivals sparkled with glittering gowns as several screaming
drag queens came out to bask in the glow of the spotlight. And it
was a fabulous night, darling, just fabulous!
The audience gave the film a standing ovation, and the party
raged till dawn. (The things your editor has to do to make a