Three Thousand Years of Longing Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A djinn’s story that spans over three-thousand years of humanity's lust, greed, love & curiosity. A visually stunning tale that sees logic clash with fantasy.
Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Romance
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, Aamito Lagum, Nicolas Mouawad, Ece Yüksel, Matteo Bocelli, Lachy Hulme, Kaan Guldur & Burcu Gölgedar.
Run Time: 108 min.
US Release: 26 August 2022
UK Release: 02 September 2022
German Release: 01 September 2022
I am a huge fan of director Geroge Miller, his Mad Max films are brutal dystopian action flicks, the two Happy Feet animations are sweet and funny penguin tales and The Witches of Eastwick is a twisted dark fantasy, with one of Jack Nicholson's craziest performance. In short, when I heard about this new fantasy tale by George Miller, I was counting the days for its release! Having seen it now, I can honestly say that it is not the picture I expected, even not as perfect as I had wished for, nevertheless, Three Thousand Years is still a majestic fantasy account that includes warm-looking pictures plus great performances!
Dr Alithea Binnie is A lonely academic, yet content with life. While on a trip to Istanbul, attending a conference, she discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. As a scholar of mythology, it presents her with a problem, as she knows all about the cautionary tales of wishes gone wrong. The Djinn tries to persuade her by telling her fantastical stories of his past.
Based on A. S. Byatt’s short story “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye”, which is an intertextual novella referencing folk tales from One Thousand and One Nights, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the myth of Cybele and works from William Shakespeare. Miller chose to focus on folklore of the Arabian nights, intertwined with historical data, to tell a gripping tale of humanities wonders, as well as how the feelings of lust, greed, anger plus curiosity can lead to one’s downfall but are emotions that even superpowered beings like a Djinn can fall for.
Miller manages to weave in a lot of philosophical constructs into the plot, so much so that it makes it worth wile for multiple viewings. A lot of subjects touched upon are recurring themes in humanity's history; our reason for existence, the languages that unite us, values and the knowledge we seek. Each of Djinn’s stories is in some way attached to one of those topics, which in return, reflect back on Alithea.
While the narrative complexity makes this an intriguing premise, pacing issues start appearing during the last act. If on purpose; as a stylistic choice by the director, to finalise his fairytale in this metaphorical sense, or as a result of the narrative switching back to a more realistic scenario, it did hurt the movie overall. That said, the ending is satisfactory!
The dialogues are among the best aspects of the film, as it is told from the perspective of a narratologist. The conversations that unfold between this academic and the immortal being are some of the most interesting. The Djinn himself, is somewhat of a historian, as he lived through everything he recounts.
Tilda Swinton is a fantastic method actor, encapsulating Alithea Binnie’s loneliness and coldish distant behaviour well. Alithea herself remarks a few times that she is a creature of solitude and content to be so. It is a point she defends a little to much, as in reality, she seeks what every human does: Someone to share their life with! Her profession makes her an expert in the field of stories, thus making for a perfect counterpart for the Djinn. However, the chemistry between Swinton and Elba is more of a cold, intellectual one, as the two characters seem to repulsed from each other by an unseen force.
Idris Elba is remarkable as the Djinn. It is the accounts of this mystical being what propels the plot forward. Intellectually, as well as physically gifted, the Djinn himself fell victim to human emotions, which lead to being incarcerated several times through the mileanias. Yet his curiosity for the mortal beings has never been shattered, believing that salvation lies in true love.
Once again, the cinematography is fantastic! Cinematographer John Seal was brought out of retirement a second time, to manifest Miller’s vision to screen. Since the narrative is roughly outlined as an anthology flick, the camera work makes full use of that, structuring the technicalities of shots plus frames just slightly different for each story that is told by the Djinn. Even Alithea’s background obtains an original visual style. The film is a tender love tale and thus the focus lies more on smaller details. The use of vibrantly rich plus saturated colours brings this modern Arabian fable to life.
Most effects do look astonishing, in particular, the visual effects used to render Elba’s character. This production also uses a good amount of CGI, which mostly looks gorgeous, still, there are at times scenes that look unfinished, able to rip audiences out of their experience. That said, the set decoration, just as the costume design, not only look beautiful but have a specific meaning to the plot itself.
The musical score, composed by Junkie XL, is breathtakinggly beautifull suiting the setting of Tukrey, as well as, underlining the themes of romance and fantasy.
Verdict: George Miller’s existential fairytale for adults, is a beautiful fable with a lot of depth, meaning and philosophy that will linger in audience’s minds, long after the credits have rolled on screen. A complex structure of anthology stories, each is told with a purpose containing significance to the final outcome. The metaphorical facets of the plot are never spoonfed, which might alienate some viewers. The dialogues themselves are some of the most exciting moments of the film, as logic clashes with fiction. Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, give wonderful renditions of their characters, though sadly the chemistry between both is a little cold. The cinematography is among John Seal’s finest, capturing warm and vibrant colours that bring the settings to life. A few scenes containing special effects look unfinished, though one is quickly brought back into the happening. Containing minor flaws, Three Thousand Years of Longing obtains a worthy 7.5 out of 10.
Have you seen Miller’s latest feature in cinemas? If not, I do implore you to go see it! Hold back on your expectations and simply enjoy the theatrical ride. Thank you for reading!