Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) drama, fantasy
Directed by: George Miller
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, Pia Thunderbolt, Burk Ozturk, Anthony Moisset
Release Dates: May 20, 2022 (Cannes)
August 26 (USA)
September 1 (Australia)
Narratologist Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) arrives in Istanbul for a conference. In one of the shops, she acquires a vessel from which she accidentally releases a djinn (Idris Elba). He offers to fulfill any three wishes of Alithea, but the woman is in no hurry to make them. In return, she offers djinn to tell the story of his imprisonment and life in general.
In the first feature film in seven years, Oscar winner George Miller changes the dust of dystopian roads and the roar of the monstrous cars from Mad Max: Fury Road for the relative silence of a five-star hotel and snow-white bathrobes. We watch the conversations of two similar creatures, a man and a djinn, are united by confusion and lack of freedom, a thirst for touch, and a premonition of a miracle. What is it like to fall in love with a wish-maker, often a comic character, sometimes a trickster? Is it possible to get a ticket back from traditional slavery (technology, circumstance) and split it between two persons? Reversing a thousand-year-old narrative to find mythical elusive happiness? Miller provides the audience with answers to these riddles in batches, combining mundane (and therefore resonant) elements with fantastic surroundings, a trip in the style of Tarsem Singh's The Fall, and the recent Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Based on the story of the British writer Antonia Byatt, Three Thousand Years of Longing does not accidentally focus on the initial indifference of the central character - Alithea is not at all impressed with magic, and even the djinn does not frighten her. Perhaps the reason lies in her experience because Professor Binnie knows everything and more about fairy tales and legends. Perhaps the point is the ex-spouse who betrayed her and, as a result, detachment from banal feelings and self-sufficiency. “I will count to three and you will disappear,” Alithea is sure. The world works according to its rules, the characters of legends do not have the right to seep into reality, but for some reason, the genie remains in the room - until the wishes he needs are uttered. He hurries to his personal Valhalla, to other djinns; Alithea, in turn, is in no hurry (the plane to London will wait). Thus begins a series of colorful interviews, during which the djinn will tell about his love for the Egyptian Queen Sheba, look into the magnificent age of the Turkish Sultan Suleiman, and give his beloved all the knowledge of the world, but never gain the expected freedom.
Miller conceived the idea of making a picture back in the 1990s. For small timekeeping, he will repeatedly confirm his skills as a storyteller, consistently divide the plot, break time, and connect people who at first glance are completely incompatible. In the third act, after time travel filled with creepy CGI, a minimalistic symphony of lonely human souls looms, which will gradually make sense in a world where it has long been gone. After the bickering, Alithea still gives up and says quite obvious, but still forbidden things for the majority: the heroine asks the djinn to love her, to remind her of this distant matter, to re-adjust the stray course. The djinn sadly agrees, dooming himself to gradual destruction.
Having got out of the hotel, they move to noisy London. The djinn learns about the successes of mankind, studies medical technologies and colliders, and frightens the xenophobic neighbors Alithea with the appearance. He will repeatedly note the inconsistency of the nature of people and the “metastases of hatred”, to which he is unlikely to descend. Alithea continues her scientific work, she hurries home to her beloved, until she discovers the incompatibility of their relationship with a magical organism. Parting is inevitable, but Miller draws and confirms a simple truth: stories are immortal, which means that we partially guarantee ourselves a place in the endless space of narratives. Taking a therapeutic break between filming two of the most ambitious blockbusters in history (Furiosa will hit the screens in 2024), Miller recalls the life-saving conversational communication, relationship, and invaluable experience.
The book closes - now only an eternity.