Yes, if you are one of those people who feel like nothing matches the magic and suspense that occurs when you know nothing about a film – then this is the film for you. To be honest, most people who sit down to watch this film probably won’t even know which audience it is aimed at – and the fact that it was from George Miller didn’t help in that department… After all, this is the man who gave us not only Babe and Happy Feet, but also the legendary Mad Max films.
Take a look at the poster and you will soon see that it features Tilda Swinton (The Beach) and a genie. But is it a family film, is it a dark take on Aladdin?
It turns out the film is certainly not for the kids, the full frontal nudity will attest to that. This instead tells the story of literature expert, Alithea (Swinton), whose expertise revolves around the art of storytelling.
When she travels to Turkey for a conference she finds herself shopping in a bazaar where she purchases a quaint bottle that has been damaged by fire. When she tries to clean the bottle she suddenly finds her hotel room filled with a gigantic djinn (Idris Elba – Beast). The djinn is adamant that she needs to use her three wishes so he can be free, but Alithea says she sees how these deals play out and it never works for the person making the wishes.
She demands to know more about him and soon the djinn is telling Alithea stories from his 3,000 years of existence. Stories of love affairs with people like Sheba (Aamito Lagum – Africa’s Next Top Model) and stories of heartbreak and pain that have littered his life to date.
It is ironic that Miller has made a movie about a storyteller because over the years his films have shown that Miller himself is one of the greatest storytellers in modern-day cinema. This is a man who can basically make a car chase an entire film (Mad Max: Fury Road), but also has the expertise to pull off modern-day fairy tales like Babe and Happy Feet ‒ films that while largely based at kids are still loved and adored by adults.
With Three Thousand Years of Longing, Miller seems to be in his element. This is basically a fairy tale for adults with little stories coming together to make a much larger story. This is a film where the audience will find themselves so intrigued by the story being told by the djinn that they will find themselves on the edge of their seat like they would during most thrillers. Watching this film is like being a kid on Christmas Eve eagerly listening to a Christmas story. Yes, there is just something about Miller and co-screenwriter Augusta Gore’s storytelling here that makes you feel like a child again.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is the range of emotions that Miller and Gore were able to infuse into this film. You could argue that COVID restrictions actually enhanced this film as the fact that most of the film centred around the djinn and Alithea in a room together somehow makes this film feel even more personal and intimate. There are times in this film when Miller allows the film to become creative and imaginative as the djinn’s stories take us to exotic lands, but even then the stories of love and loss were all things that we could relate to and grounds the film in the audience’s heart.
Of course with Swinton and Elba carrying most of this film between them, their acting games really step up. Swinton is one of those actresses many people claim not to like, but you only have to go back and look at films such as We Need to Talk About Kevin to see what an amazing actress she is.
Here, Swinton is again brilliant as she portrays a character that is tough and stern on the outside but emotional and hurting on the inside. She is well matched by Elba who I found to have delivered an almost Shakesperian performance as he plays the larger than life djinn.
There is something amazingly special about Three Thousand Years of Longing. Very few films have been captured the way this film has. The artistic side to the film will limit its audience, but this is one film that really does celebrate the brilliant imagination of one of Australia’s greatest filmmakers.
Three Thousand Years Of Longing is now screening in Phuket and is rated ‘G’.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus