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Three Thousand Years of Longing

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Synopsis:
A lonely scholar, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.

A lonely scholar uncovers a Djinn who proceeds to tell her his life story in . Alithea Binnie () is a British scholar content with her isolated lifestyle, though she occasionally finds herself plagued by visions of fantastical beings. While in Istanbul, giving a lecture, Alithea purchases a glass bottle from an antique shop. While cleaning it, Alithea is surprised by the sudden appearance of a Djinn (), who promises to grant Alithea three wishes in exchange for his freedom. However, Alithea is skeptical of this offer, and the Djinn proceeds to tell her stories of his past masters.

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a fantasy anthology film co-written and directed by George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), based on the 1994 short story “The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye” by A. S. Byatt. The framing story of this anthology sees British scholar Alithea Binnie debate with the Djinn that she freed about whether allowing him to grant wishes is a wise course of action. The Djinn proceeds to tell his story, which spans three millennia. The common thread in each of these stories is how much of a fool the Djinn has been around women, whether it be the Queen of Sheba (Aamito Lagum), young concubine Gülten (Ece Yüksel), or 19th-century merchant's wife Zefir (Burcu Gölgedar), the latter being the most painful of all.

In between successfully revitalizing his signature Mad Max series with 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road and its upcoming prequel Furiosa, George Miller presents what is undoubtedly the most fantastical film he has directed. The various stories of Three Thousand Years of Longing place Idris Elba's Djinn alongside different historical figures such as The Queen of Sheba, King Solomon (Nicolas Mouawad), and the sultans Suleiman the Magnificent (Lachy Hulme) and Ibrahim (Jack Braddy).

Despite Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton being quite solid in their lead roles, Three Thousand Years of Longing is a bit of a mess. Two-thirds of the film is made of Djinn telling his stories to convince Alithea to make three wishes, while the remainder is about what happens after she consents to that fact. In addition, with Mad Mad: Fury Road being a celebration of practical effects and stuntwork, it is a shame that George Miller relied so much on CGI for the fantastical visuals of this film.

Altogether, while Three Thousand Years of Longing is a satisfactory watch, it ends up being a disappointing follow-up by George Miller to the wonder that is Mad Max: Fury Road.

Trailer for Three Thousand Years of Longing

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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