Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022): An Exploration of Love, Desire and Story

George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” was my favorite film of 2015 and though I thought this film is really good it does not nearly reach the level of great of that film. This is still a film I’d recommend to anyone into surrealist fantasy or romance as this film captures both those genres really well. Without going into spoilers, this is a beautiful film that is well worth your time.

The film was directed by George Miller who co-wrote the film with Augusta Gore.

When Professor Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) travels to Istanbul for a conference she finds herself in the care of mysterious Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes in order to be free.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Cinematography – This is a beautiful film, easily one of the most beautiful looking films I’ve seen this year. All the scenes of the stories that Alithea and the Djinn tell about their past feel like fairy tales as the lighting brings the surreal events to life. John Seale did an amazing job.

The World – The world of this film is a world full of supernatural beings. You have Djinn in Istanbul visiting Alithea and interacting with her even before she discovers the Djinn who she must ask wishes of. There are other supernatural beings referenced too such as Angels and Ifrits as well as spells and magic.

Professor Alithea Binnie – Tilda Swinton is wonderful as the divorced, lonely professor who finds herself falling in love the Djinn. She is a British scholar who studies stories so the first part of the story is the Djinn convincing her he isn’t a trickster Djinn and that the wishes don’t have to always be tragic. In the end she falls in love with him because of his stories and in the end gibes her final wish for his freedom which in return he visits her for periodically for the rest of her days.

The Djinn – Idris Elba is amazing as the Djinn. He’s tragic as we see how lonely immortality is and how all his loves ended tragically and how all his loves weren’t romantic but were from his empathy for those making the wishes who were often as trapped as he was as after the Queen of Sheba they were concubines or treated as concubines. It was also his love for the Queen of Sheba who was part Djinn herself that lead to King Solomon capturing him leading to his tragic tale to be told. The exploration of his perception is one of the strongest elements of the film and establishes how Djinn work with the strong aspect of the Djinn Realm being a place where they all share stories with one another. He really was a fascinating character.

An Exploration of Love and Desire – Two of the core themes of the film are the exploration of love and desire and how they differ and how they relate. We see a few different kinds of love the Djinn has for those he grants wishes for from a more familial or romantic love and a love of knowledge and knowing. In the end the core is both the Djinn and Alithea learning to “let go” to fully love and it is in that full freedom of each fully shared that love is fully discovered and bon.

An Exploration of Story – Story and how it is a sharing of the self is the core narrative device of the story as the name of the film is a story Alithea is writing at the end of the film and how the Djinn and Alithea build trust and love for one another is in the sharing of their pasts and what stories mean, such as all the common stories around the danger of wishes. I loved this narrative device even if not all the stories worked.

The Cons:

Pacing – Some of the stories could have been cut or been made a lot shorter. Specifically the princes Murad IV and Ibrahim. The story doesn’t go anywhere and all it establishes is how miserable and trapped the Djinn was as he was trapped between worlds which the story could have told in a much shorter amount of time.

Alithea’s Colleagues – Alithea’s colleagues are barely characters. They exist to establish she has hallucinations and has had hallucinations since her childhood and to establish her job, which was a shame as they could have been more than that or shown to be a contrast to her in personality and desires.

Elements of the Stories – We never get why the Queen of Sheba and Djinn love each other as we never get to really know the Queen of Sheba of the story and all the characters of the Murad IV and Ibrahim story were all one-dimensional and flat. All of this could have been less of a problem if it hadn’t lead to the stories themselves dragging. It also is never established if the Djinn or Djinn in general have names.

The strongest parts of this story are the love stories and visuals as well as the characters of the Djinn and Alithea. For this reason I wish we had gotten to know them further as seeing how they grew with one another was the richest part of the story. I thought this story was really good and if you are interested in a romantic surrealist fantasy film I definitely recommend this one.

Final Score: 8.9 / 10

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