The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: Stereotypes and Priscilla

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Australian Voices in Film:

“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”

Essay Question: Stereotyping of character representations

“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” is a hilarious comedy, brought together brilliantly by writer and director Stephan Elliot. Tick/Mitzi and Adam/Felicia are two drag queens that travel across Australia on a lavender bus with there transsexual friend Ralph/Bernadette. All three challenge the dominant stereotype of the Australian male. Released in 1994, 14 years into the AIDS epidemic, the film had a phenomenal response around the world and in Australia.

Travelling from Sydney, the three main characters played by Hugo Weaving, Guy Peirce and Terrance Stamp travel to Alice Springs for a cabaret show hosted by Mitzi’s wife. The audience is positioned to sympathise with the main characters during their hardships, and good times. The movie confronts different types of masculinity in an extreme environment

The film presents the stereotypical behavior of gay men that is evident in our society. Many of the costumes are designed to highlight the characters and the way they live. For example, Bernadette wears long flowing clothes usually white or an off cream. ‘She’ is an older ‘women’ and dresses to look like one with flowing skirts and tops with her hair done up simply.

Felicia is more of a stereotypical gay; ‘she’ has a more feminine figure and wears tight clothes when in drag. Felicia looks more masculine out of costume; wearing, stereotypically, a singlet and baggy pants. Felicia also has different body language compared to ‘her’ two friends; walking more femininely as well as dancing and singing more often with Bernadette’s statement “That's right. A bloody good litt...

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...where they make it too that top shows that they have survived the hard times and have overcome the AIDS epidemic.

The last extreme long shot shows the rural desert which contrasts with their bright costumes, letting the audience feel their accomplishment of climbing King Canyon in full drag. The music in the background is a soft slow song that gets more dramatic the longer it plays finally getting at its climax when they reach the top. This music can mean that their journey was slow at the beginning but got a lot more interesting the longer they drove.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” is important to Australian culture not only for a great laugh but because it teaches people that there are many different types of Australian men and to embrace our diversity. Elliot used the AIDS epidemic as inspiration for this movie and did a very good job.
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