Muriel's Wedding: Renewing Our Vows


Muriel and the NFSA

Note: Online exhibition updated in June 2015 to include a Q & A with producer Lynda House.

'You’re terrible Muriel!’

Muriel’s Wedding turns 20 this year and the NFSA is celebrating by sharing rare videos, costumes, oral history, posters, photographs and documents that we have acquired for our collection – items that help us preserve, relive and re-imagine an iconic film.

Muriel’s Wedding has had a strong impact on Australian popular culture since its release in 1994. The uplifting soundtrack with ABBA classics like 'Dancing Queen’ and 'Waterloo’, the nerdy outcast determined to make a life for herself, the cringe-worthy but recognisable small-town Australia of Porpoise Spit – all have touched a chord with audiences.

In conserving materials from the film, the NFSA is also capturing the efforts of the cast, production crew and all involved in the filmmaking process. This exhibition offers a glimpse into their story as part of the ongoing life of the film, 20 years since its debut and continuing into the future.

Video

Deleted scene

A take from a deleted scene in which Muriel (Toni Collette, out of shot) cooks her first meal for husband David (Daniel Lapaine). David’s swimming coach, Ken (Chris Haywood), is telling her about the media interest generated by her and David’s recent wedding.

Deleted scene from Muriel’s Wedding. NFSA title: 812836

The deleted scene continues below with a new take. Muriel has cooked her first meal for new husband David, only to have him storm out, jealous at the media attention she’s receiving. Also at the table is David’s swimming coach, Ken.

Deleted scene from Muriel’s Wedding. NFSA title: 812836

Footage taken on set

Footage taken on the set of Muriel’s Wedding, courtesy of cinematographer Martin McGrath. In this scene, Muriel (left) meets Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths) at a resort.

On-set footage courtesy of Martin McGrath. NFSA title: 1274584

Note: this clip includes low level coarse language.

Original Australian trailer

The original Muriel’s Wedding trailer, which screened ahead of the film’s Australian release on 29 September 1994.

Muriel’s Wedding trailer. NFSA title: 490535

Muriel’s Wedding in German

This is a scene from Muriels Hochzeit, the dubbed German-language version of Muriel’s Wedding, in which Rhonda sticks up for Muriel in front of her 'friends’ (Sophie Lee, Pippa Grandison, Rosalind Hammond, Belinda Jarrett).

Muriel’s Wedding dubbed into German. NFSA title: 1234371.

Costumes

Thanks to the generous donation of production company House and Moorhouse Films, the NFSA preserves eight of the costumes designed by Terry Ryan for Muriel’s Wedding. Terry (Terence) Ryan has designed costumes for more than 50 productions across cinema (Starstruck, 1982; King Kong, 2006; Tomorrow, When the War Began, 2010) and television (The Cowra Breakout, 1984; Farscape, 1999-2003).


Terry Ryan’s costumes bring to life Muriel’s obsessive quest to become ‘someone’ through marriage.

The spectacular wedding gown worn by Muriel (Toni Collette) features a low neckline, highly decorated bodice, ornate lace sleeves and a full skirt with a modest train in heavy ivory satin. The headpiece adds a touch of regal class to the traditional veil, through which we can still see Muriel’s wide grin. While the expression on the groom’s face is not what a normal bride would expect to see, by this point in the film we are in no doubt that Muriel is not a normal bride.

The wedding dress and accessories as featured in the film.


The three peach-coloured bridesmaids’ ensembles were worn by Cheryl (Rosalind Hammond, above left), Tania (Sophie Lee, centre) and Janine (Belinda Jarrett, right) at Muriel’s wedding.

Each ensemble comprises a peach-coloured, floor-length frock with tulle skirt and lace bodice. Also part of the costume are a white petticoat, floral hairpiece, earrings and gold shoes. In this moment of triumph for Muriel, Tania and her friends have been temporarily transformed by their outfits into demure handmaidens to the regal bride. Just a few words of dialogue is enough, however, to remind us that the claws are only barely concealed beneath the immaculate nail varnish.

The peach bridesmaid dresses and accessories as featured in the film.


The pink bridesmaids’ ensembles were worn by Janine, Cheryl and Nicole (Pippa Grandison) at Tania’s wedding at the start of the film.

The hot-pink bridesmaid’s dress is matched with pearl choker necklace, nylon lace gloves, white floral-and-pearl headpiece and pearl and gold clip-on earrings. The neckline is defined by a stiff ruffle of pink tulle with seed-pearl decoration and the bridesmaids all wear their hair in the same up-swept style. This is the group that Muriel desperately wants to join and part of her story is how these combative bridesmaids agree to accompany her down the aisle at her dream wedding.

The pink bridesmaid dresses and accessories as featured in the film.

Costume accessories

As every bride knows, the details of wedding accessories tell all. Muriel’s wedding is a triumphant, regal occasion complete with heart-shaped tiara, pearl-drop necklace and delicate floral earrings. The bridal slippers perpetuate the fairy-tale theme. Muriel’s bridesmaids wear soft, rose hairpieces and complementary earrings – in sharp contrast to the more ‘tizzy’ accoutrements worn at Tania’s wedding at the beginning of the film.

Wedding dress accessories worn by Muriel. NFSA titles: 350500 and 351862.

Peach bridesmaid dress accessories worn at Muriel’s wedding. NFSA titles: 350952, 351219, 351518 and 712470.

Pink bridesmaid dress accessories worn at Tania’s wedding. NFSA title: 350712.

Q & A with Lynda House

Lynda House, producer of Muriel’s Wedding, visited the NFSA in December 2014 to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film and launch the online exhibition.

Watch excerpts below from her question and answer session with Meg Labrum, Senior Curator Film at the NFSA, before a screening of the film.

Excerpts from a Q&A with Muriel’s Wedding producer Lynda House at the NFSA in December 2014.

You can also read a transcript of an interview with Lynda on the NFSA blog.

Oral History interview

Jeanie Drynan talks about playing Muriel’s mother in the three interview clips below.

Above: Jeanie explains how wardrobe helped her become Betty Heslop on the Muriel’s Wedding set.

Above: Jeanie talks about shooting Betty’s heartbreaking scene in the church on Muriel’s wedding day.

Above: Jeanie presents Best Cinematography at the 1994 AFI Awards, which leads to a funny story involving one of the stars of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Jeanie Drynan was interviewed by Margaret Leask in 2014 for the NFSA’s Oral History program (NFSA title: 1205752).

Posters

Posters represent the marketing aspect of filmmaking but also stand as artistic statements in their own right. Here are some vivid, colourful and subtly different interpretations of Muriel’s Wedding. Compare the French wedding cake poster to the UK and US posters that focus on Toni Collette in her wedding dress. The US marketing materials sell the film more as a conventional romantic comedy than the Australian posters.

Photographs

Still images taken on a production show us cast and crew interacting, as well as the spontaneous moments of fun that erupt when making a film like Muriel. Behind-the-scenes moments captured below feature the warm working relationship between PJ Hogan and the cast; informal interactions between actors; and the actors caught on camera in the more serious scenes on set.

Documents and Artefacts

Filmmaking leaves a paper and digital trail through its many stages of development. For Muriel’s Wedding the publicity materials inevitably involved a lot of pink. The 1994 Cannes Film Festival Press book (below) was one part of a marketing strategy for Cannes which included confetti-filled invitations and a live performance by ABBA impersonators on the beach! Scripts collected by the NFSA reveal changes between first drafts and the final shooting script; scenes get cut, characters renamed, and lines changed. Nothing shows this more than the initial script treatment, titled Helena’s Wedding: A Black Comedy in White.

Above: Pages from a 1989 screenplay treatment for Helena’s Wedding: A Black Comedy in White, an early version of Muriel’s Wedding. NFSA title: 561727.

Above: Pages from the third draft screenplay, versions dated 23 February 1991 and 29 April 1992. NFSA titles: 561908 and 561910.

Above: Press Book created for 1994 Cannes Film Festival screening. NFSA title: 1236895.

Above: Cannes Film Festival t-shirt, photos from London Royal Charity Premiere, education study guide, and miscellaneous promotional materials.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Lynda House, Jocelyn Moorhouse and PJ Hogan, without whom this exhibition would not have been possible. With thanks to Martin McGrath for footage taken on the Muriel’s Wedding set, and to TF1 Droits Audiovisuel.

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Comments

This is fab! Great photos and lovely reminders.

Jenny Cornish on 05 Dec 2014, 10:34 a.m.

Great exhibition! Especially loved the interviews with Jeanie Drynan and the trivia! Thank you.

Great review of the behind the scenes work that went into making an iconic Australian movie.

Veronica Roach on 07 Dec 2014, 6:59 p.m.

Fabulous. I have many happy memories of seeing the film on its release. 20 years ago. Gosh. Great seeing those additional clips. Thank you.

Loved this movie when it came out, saw it 3 times. Great exhibition!

Satya Fitzsimmons on 08 Dec 2014, 3:55 p.m.

I'm Italian and I love this movie! Just watched it again yesterday night.
The exhibition is awesome, but I feel a bit disappointed by the fact you didn't put anything about the Italian release (that's called "Le nozze di Muriel").
God bless Australia, Toni Collette and this enchanting film!

Great film, broadcast via Dutch Satellite TV during UN/IFOR/SFOR-stay in former Yugoslavia. Made our stay there a lot more bearable, seen the circumstances at that time.

Cool.

Jerome Taakc on 19 Jun 2015, 10:55 a.m.

Why was it Belinda Jarrett last movie?

Hi Sue
It seems Belinda Jarrett didn't continue to pursue an acting career after Muriel's Wedding.
- Adam (NFSA)

Thanks Adam,,,

It was just such a final comment,, Belinda Jarrett's last movie!!

and they all seemed to be having so much fun.

Thanks again for letting me know.

kind regards

Sue.

ps. never could figure out why they didn't do a sequel, 'Muriel's baby' set in South Africa!!

Belinda Jarrett was working in Accounts for Austereo a few years back, she now has 2 kids and is settled in Cronulla NSW

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