Three Thousand Years of Longing – Film Review

Sometimes, I love going into a movie barely knowing anything about it as it seems to add to the magic and suspense of what is about to play out in front of me. That was certainly the case with George Miller’s new film Three Thousand Years of Longing.

I didn’t even know what audience it was going to be aimed and the fact that it was from George Miller didn’t help in that department. After all, this is the man that gave us Babe and Happy Feet but also gave us the legendary Mad Max films.

All I really knew was that it featured Tilda Swinton and a genie. Was it a family film? Was it a dark take on Aladdin? I didn’t know and I didn’t care because Miller’s name on a film was more than enough to convince me to see it.

It turns out, the film is certainly not for the kids and the full-frontal nudity will attest to that. This film instead tells the story of literature expert, Alithea (Swinton), whose expertise revolves around the art of storytelling.

When she travels to Turkey for a conference she finds herself shopping in a bazaar where she purchases a quaint bottle that has been damaged by fire. When she tries to clean the bottle, she suddenly finds her hotel room filled with a gigantic Djinn (Idris Elba). The Djinn is adamant that she needs to use her three wishes so he can be free but Alithea says she sees how these deals play out and it never works for the person making the wishes.

She demands to know more about him and soon The Djinn is telling Alithea stories from his three thousand years of existence. Stories of love affair, heartbreak, and pain that have littered his life to date.

It is ironic that Miller has made a movie about a storyteller because over the years I have found myself believing that Miller himself is one of the greatest storytellers in modern day cinema. This is a man that can basically make a car chase an entire film but also has the expertise to pull off modern day fairy tales that are still loved and adored by adult that grew up with them.

With Three Thousand Years of Longing, I found Miller to be in his element. This is basically a fairy-tale for adults with little stories coming together to make a much larger story. I’ll admit that at times during this film I found myself so intrigued by the story The Djinn was telling that I moved forward on my seat like a kid during story time on Christmas Eve. There’s just something about George Miller and co-screenwriter Augusta Gore’s storytelling in Three Thousand Years of Longing that makes you feel like a child again.

As a writer, I was in awe of the amount of emotions that Miller and Gore were able to infuse into Three Thousand Years of Longing. I would argue that Covid restrictions enhanced the film, with majority of the featured centred around The Djinn and Alithea in a room together which made the film feel personal and intimate.

Tilda Swinton is brilliant as she portrays a character that is tough and stern on the outside but emotional and hurting on the inside. She is well matched by Idris Elba who I found to put in an almost Shakespearean performance as he plays the larger-than-life Djinn.

Very few films have captured me the way that Three Thousand Years of Longing has. I know its more artistic side may limit its audience, but it really celebrates the brilliant imagination of one of Australia’s greatest filmmakers. There is just something really special about Three Thousand Years of Longing.

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