Mona’s Movies: “Three Thousand Years of Longing”

“Three Thousand Years of Longing” movie poster / Contributed Photo

We’re now at the start of the Fall season, and in Hollywood, that can only mean one thing, and no, I’m not talking about Pumpkin Spice. I’m talking about Oscar consideration season. If you don’t already know, a lot of studios release high-quality films in late Summer/early Fall to better position themselves for the Academy Awards. The release of “Three Thousand Years of Longing” on August 26 was no doubt a strategic decision by Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM). I do not say this lightly or jokingly, but in my humble opinion, I believe the Academy should consider this film as a nominee for best picture.

Written and directed by George Miller, “Three Thousand Years…” is based on the short story “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye” by A.S. Byatt. The film is solidly anchored by the acting talents of Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. With a running time of 1 hour and 48 minutes, the movie moves along at a good pace, packing in a lot of stories in under two hours. The film is rated R for some sexual content, graphic nudity, and brief violence.

Dr. Alithea Binney, played by Tilda Swinton, is a scholar of ancient stories and mythology. While on an academic trip to Instanbul, she buys an antique bottle at a market, which propels her into an unbelievable encounter with a real-life Djinn. As it’s known in the Islamic tradition, a djinn is a
magical being who has the power to grant their master three wishes. The Djinn, played by Idris Elba has to convince the skeptical Alithea of his true nature. Alithea’s background in mythology leads her to be wary of the trickery of a Djinn. He convinces her of his pure intentions by telling of his three-
thousand-year journey in and out of his bottle in the form of three stories told in flashback. I love this movie’s use of the classic rule of threes, used in religions and storytelling from around the world. Each tale feels like an actual myth that might have been found in a classical collection of stories. The movie is faithful to Djinn’s Arabic image, not the Anglicised version. For these reasons, the film feels very authentic. The visual effects are stunning, making the movie appear as a tapestry that is visually captivating for the viewer, while honoring the art of storytelling. ”Three Thousand Years of Longing” is an emotional journey about what it means to love. This journey is carried expertly by the acting talents of Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. They convey complex emotions regarding the finding and losing of love.

Without giving away spoilers, the evolution of Alithea is particularly moving and touching. With its musings on love, loss and humanity, this film will make you think deeply long after the credits role. I give this movie 5/5 stars. This movie had me from the beginning, because I am fascinated by storytelling and mythology.