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MAKING OF: MURIEL'S WEDDING (1994)

P.J. Hogan explains how being unemployed and unappreciated prompted him to create Muriel.
By Andrew L. Urban

Unemployed and unappreciated, Paul J. Hogan was in a seriously 'down' period back in 1988, and he would sit forlornly at his favourite Melbourne coffee shop, pondering and introspecting. Across the road, a bridal wear shop had fresh faced young women coming and going: "I got fascinated by the girls going in and getting transformed into brides," he says, his depression long ago lifted. "What if one was an imposter? I wondered. Unwanted, but wanting something ..."

"She doesn't have a talent for anything except being herself"

This was the trigger for Muriel's Wedding, in which Muriel (Toni Collette) does indeed impersonate a bride-to-be at several shops, by way of manufacturing the sensation of being wanted and loved.

"I wanted to put a character like Muriel on the screen...I'd had enough of the homogenised, beautiful leads characterised by an act of heroism. I wanted to see a character like I once felt - not good for anything, but with a desire to be noticed. She doesn't have a talent for anything except being herself. And I put a value on that. It's really a crushed bud who wanted to bloom..."

Shy, a bit overweight and desperate to be wanted, Muriel lives in sunny, suburban Porpoise Point, part of the dysfunctional Heslop family dominated by a father who thinks his wife and kids are all useless. She dreams of a Prince Charming, and wants to belong to a group of sexy young girls who have no trouble finding boyfriends - albeit for the wrong reasons. She finds temporary refuge in ABBA songs, until propelled by temptation to really escape. But still she seeks the impossible dream, until jolted into the realisation that she is what she is - and that is the beginning of Muriel's life in bloom.

"I never believed that life and farce are mutually exclusive"

"I never believed that life and farce are mutually exclusive - they're much the same in fact," Hogan says, explaining why the film stitches together naturalism and elements of farce, comedy and tragedy, with such ease.

But as he readily admits, he was blessed with a superb cast, including Collette, Bill Hunter, Rachel Griffiths, Jeanie Drynan, and others.

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MURIEL'S WEDDING

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FIRST REPORTED: 13/5/95

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8th IN SERIES:
3/9/98: The Making Of is a unique and historic series of articles on a selection of Australian films such as this one that were made BI (Before Internet), or at least before Urban Cinefile was launched. All the films covered in this series can be found in the FEATURES ARCHIVES menu page, listed alphabetically under MAKING OF

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Australian Film Commission in helping to publish this series.

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Making of ANGEL BABY

Making of BLACK ROBE

Making of BLOOD OATH

Making of CAPPUCCINO

Making of HERCULES RETURNS

Making of STRICTLY BALLROOM

Making of PRISCILLA

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