The new fantasy driven film with a hint of romance, Three Thousand Years of Longing, released recently, starring Tilda Swinton as Alithea Binnie and Idris Elba as the Djinn. The movie with the tagline ‘What would you wish for?’ centres on the Djinn, telling his life story to Alithea, narrated with the help of his memories through the years.
The movie adapted from The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye (1994), a popular collection of five mythical short stories by British novelist A. S. Byatt, follows the Djinn, who is set free temporarily by Professor Binnie, who he grants three wishes to, but unlike other stories, the story shows the professor trying to understand the Djinn, and in turn the film shows him sharing his journey with her.
The film also stars Alyla Browne as Young Alithea Binnie, Sarah Houbolt as Unsettling Man, Aamito Lagum as Queen of Sheba, Anthony Moisset as Hotel Porter, Ece Yuksel as Gulten, Megan Gale as Hurrem, and Burce Golgedar as Zefir, among others, in short but prominent roles.
The film is solely centred on the two lead stars and their conversations, with clear dialogue that gives viewers an insight into what the Djinn has been though in his life and what his long journey entailed in the last three thousand years of his existence.
Stories about genies almost always feel original because of how uncommon they are, and this film differentiates itself even more with a plot that takes the time to explain itself and tries to keep its audiences engaged. This is a film that is different from Disney’s Aladdin, and other similar films, and manages to be a standalone film that is aimed at an adult audience, who would want to understand the Djinn’s journey.
The style of storytelling makes the movie feel fresh initially, almost like it has a lot to offer viewers given that many movies have not gone into depth to explore and try to unravel the Djinn’s story, though the concept feels fresh, along the way, the film failed to create enough depth, making the story seem like it missed the opportunity to offer more. The film was “rated R by the MPAA for some sexual content, graphic nudity and brief violence.”
The style of storytelling with strong scripts that are dialogue driven manage to keep audiences curious, wanting to know more about what is about to happen next in the story, with calm pacing, as the Djinn explains what happened over the course of the film, with what feels like short stories. And though each story had an impact in his life, as a movie, Three Thousand Years of Longing is not memorable, and is not one that many would watch more than once. This maybe because there are no impactful moments that stand out in the film, or something to elevate the story to give it depth and dimension.
The film in its own way, shows that the two characters have loneliness in common, and later romance between the protagonists becomes the highlight, and that feels rushed. The lead cast’s performance is what carries the film, but the relationship in the story needed more emotion to make it feel more real.
The 108-minute film by director George Miller, was made together with producer Doug Mitchell, working in collaboration with production companies Elevate Production Finance, Film Nation Entertainment, Kenny Miller Mitchell, and Sunac Culture. Made with a budget of sixty million dollars, the film went on to be a box-office disaster, raking in just over 9.3 million worldwide, proving to be unprofitable with a lack of marketing and the film’s overall releases strategy being blamed. Three Thousand Years of Longing however managed to receive moderate to positive reviews with 71 per cent featured on Rotten Tomatoes, 60 per cent on Metacritic and 6.9/10 on IMDb.
This is a story that is driven by creative dialogue, supported by a few captivating visuals, backed a cast of two lead stars who manage to entertain viewers from start to finish. Three Thousand Years of Longing is a film that those who appreciate a strong dialogue driven film will appreciate, while others may feel that there was missed opportunity to deliver more magic than what is on offer.
By Nirupa Mohan Dore