In Muriel's Wedding, the music of ABBA forms the backbone of the film's soundtrack, functioning as a significant plot device and assisting in characterisation. Muriel spends her time listening to ABBA songs - dreaming about a glamorous wedding and a life away from her overbearing father and the dead-end town of Porpoise Spit. For Muriel, ABBA is a form of escapism.
The film’s soundtrack, however, also capitalises on the widespread popularity of the band in Australia during the 1970s and ’80s. ABBA enjoyed ‘a nostalgia revival’ as well during the 1990s, with the release of their 1992 compilation album Gold: Greatest Hits.
In this recording, we hear Producer Lynda House talking about the struggle to win over ABBA for the rights to use their music in the film. It is indicative of a common problem for filmmakers and musicians - who need to negotiate costs and decide how the music will be synchronised and appropriated.
Songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson eventually allowed their songs to be used, and permitted one of their hits ('Dancing Queen') to be adapted as an orchestral piece. ABBA also features in other films of the period such as The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.