Three thousand years of longing marks filmmaker George Miller’s first return behind the camera since 2015’s Oscar-winning stunner Mad Max: Fury Road. However, this time he tried to create a more intimate epic based on AS Byatt’s short story The Djinn in the Eye of the Nightingale. The film stars a stunning duo with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, carrying an entertaining if flawed love story.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” emphasizes the importance of storytelling
Alithea (Swinton) is a scholar on a work trip to Istanbul. However, she immediately begins experiencing seemingly supernatural events as soon as she sets foot on land. Along the way, Alithea buys a damaged artifact as a souvenir from a shop, little knowing that it will change her life forever.
Three thousand years of longing finds the scholar confronted by a Djinn (Elba) who now relies on her to ask him for three wishes to free him from a long imprisonment. Doubt and suspicion cloud Alithea’s mind, who believes he is an evil trickster and sends the couple on a fateful journey that involves both their past and their future.
Writer/director George Miller fantasizes about a romance between lonely, lost souls
The history of Three thousand years of longing is housed in a fairytale vehicle that allows him to explore fantastical locations with ease. Alithea talks about narratology and emphasizes the importance of narrative structure. The scholar makes it clear to the audience that she is voluntarily alone and claims that this makes her happier. The fairytale structure of the story paints a fascinating picture of wonder and magic.
The Djinn makes it clear that he will only grant strictly three wishes, so unlimited wishes are off the table. Also, he cannot end the world’s suffering or offer immortality because it goes against the “nature of things”. However, Alithea’s nature does not want to wish for anything, has insight into stories about geniuses. She’s convinced that he’s actually a trickster, and wishes always end in disaster.
Three thousand years of longing looks to the past to inform his future. Alithea has a greater imagination than meets the eye with the memory of an imaginary friend named Enzo. She questions reality and weaves her own logic into the impossible situation she finds herself in. Awakening a side to each other that has long been dormant, Alithea and the Djinn bring two lonely souls into a situation of only hope for each other.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” is a patchy, epic story
Three thousand years of longing is certainly of epic proportions, spanning well across human history. Miller takes full advantage of this with Roger Ford’s gorgeous production design and John Seale’s lush cinematography. Mad Max: Fury Road Composer Junkie XL returns with Miller in a great collaboration and delivers an impressive score. Some of the more ambitious CGI are a bit of a letdown, but their sound design is all-encompassing and all-consuming in the best possible way.
Elba and Swinton are rightfully among the most respectable actors in the business, and they show it in Miller’s epic. However, they are more impressive when viewed as independent performances. Elba and Swinton effortlessly weave loneliness and longing into their characters, even as they lurk far below the surface. In a love story like this, the romance has to be believable, but the chemistry between Elba and Swinton is lacking here.
This fairy tale finds its characters discovering feelings through the use of stories. Her longing for freedom and absolution can be felt in every frame of Miller’s epic, although it could have gone further. The narratives of both past and present feel fragmented and alienated from one another, resulting in a disjointed story. Three thousand years of longing is a sprawling tale of the importance of storytelling that is visually captivating, even if its romance doesn’t quite swoon as it should.
Three thousand years of longing hits theaters on August 26th.
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https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/three-thousand-years-of-longing-movie-review.html/ George Miller’s fantastic romance with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton