Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed by George Miller
Starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba
George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing is special because you never find yourself asking, “How will this end?” Recent industry trends have conditioned us to spend the duration of a movie trying to guess its binary option for a conclusion. Will the main character choose A or B? What characters will live or die? Three Thousand Years of Longing gets you to ask, “What’s going to happen next?” and that is the kind of cinema that sucks you in and makes you forget you exist in the real world, if only for a few hours.
The description of the movie, a lonely scholar who meets a genie while on a trip to Istanbul, doesn’t do much to grab your curiosity. It’s a simple premise that’s been retold regularly since The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (and probably before then, too). There’s a reason why some stories last so long and that’s because every once in a while, a genius comes along and leverages that basic story to say something profound. George Miller is a genius and what he offers is a Forrest Gump-type epic spanning thousands of years.
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Idris Elba plays the Djinn, or genie, and shares the story of how he keeps getting trapped in a bottle and the people he encountered that influenced his story. From the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon to the Ottoman Empire to modern day London — we see that human nature is timeless. We love, we hate, and we get jealous and paranoid. The Djinn never judges what he sees the same as Forrest Gump is merely an observer.
Tilda Swinton is a scholar who claims to take solace in a life of solitude, buried in her work. She tells the Djinn her story of a lonely childhood and a failed marriage. She explains that her joy is studying stories and we as the audience get to experience that joy because much of the movie is a series of stories that suck you in as soon as they start. As a whole, it’s an incredible story that will remind you of what it’s like to be a child again, staring up along with the rest of the class at the pictures in the book the teacher holds wide open.