Three Thousand Years of Longing

Directed by: George Miller
Distributed by: United Artists Releasing

Written by Taylor Baker


More than half a decade removed from making one of the most memorable action films of the 21st century in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” George Miller has returned with “Three Thousand Years of Longing.” A comparatively “smaller” film, predominantly shot in interiors with our two leads, aside from the constant beautiful journeys into the past of Idris Elba’s Djinn. Despite largely being a narrowly focused film in the present timeline “Three Thousand Years of Longing” feels like a fable that could take you anywhere. 

Based on a short story from A.S. Byatt entitled ‘The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye,’ Tilda Swinton assumes the character of Alithea, and while on a work trip, she purchases a glass bottle. Naturally, the bottle she selects happens to hold a Djinn. Who erupts from the bottle that evening while Alithea attempts to clean it, with her electric toothbrush. From then on the film turns into a conversational retelling of the life and journey of the Djinn, in a well-conceived and delivered attempt to convince Tilda’s Alithea to use her wishes to free him.

“Three Thousand Years of Longing” showcases a new wrinkle in his toolbox, dynamic engaging interiors with proportions of a CG character frequently shifting, Elba’s Djinn is seemingly bigger than the entire hotel room one moment and sporting a human-sized plush robe the next. Often times scaling of this sort causes audiences to have issues with proportionality and the ability to believe in what they’re seeing. But the CG and blocking are done in such a comprehensive and intuitive way that you can simply lean back and believe for moments at least that this Djinn really can change his size at will in between the yarns he’s spinning.

Miller’s wife Margaret Sixel serves as editor. Marrying the confusion, longing, diasporic narrative, and characters into an engrossing chronicle. The film seamlessly navigates from thousands of years earlier to the aforementioned hotel room with our leads clothed in little more than the hotel’s plush robes. “Three Thousand Years of Longing” is about exactly what it says it is, a long-simmering longing, and Miller adeptly navigates the eccentricities of the picture’s rules with the brash and controlled straightforwardness that only an accomplished director can provide.

“Three Thousand Years of Longing” Trailer

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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