Three Thousand Years of Longing: George (Mad Max) Miller’s Exploration of Mythology, Starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba (Cannes Fest 2022, Out of Competition)

Tilda Swinton & Idris Elba In George Miller’s ‘Three Thousand Years Of Longing’

Three Thousand Years Of Longing
Tilda Swinton in “Three Thousand Years of Longing” MGM 
George Miller’s films are highly diverse and unpredictable in nature. as manifest in his new film, the time-traveling, narratively bold literary adventure, Three Thousand Years of Longing.

Three Thousand Years of Longing, the fantasy love tale from director Miller, is set to hit theaters August 31.

In this Cannes Fest out-of-competition entry, the director delves back into old texts to examine the nature and power of legendary stories that have endured for centuries, from one generation to the next

Uneven, the film begins on a high, before deflating gradually as it works its way toward its modern-day ending.

Based on a 1994 short story, “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye,” by A.S. Byatt and adapted by Miller and daughter Augusta Gore,

The film is defined by its inquisitive intelligence and high-caliber international cast, Oscar winner Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, two excellent actors that here, nonetheless, seem to suffer from lack of strong chemistry.

Shot during Covid, the film introduces Dr. Alithea Binnie (Swinton) arriving in Istanbul, settling in her hotel’s “Agatha Christie room.”

Alithea is confronted by an extraordinary sight of a giant fellow in her room, who speaks in ancient Greek (then English), noting that he has all the time in the world.

The Djinn, as he’s called, wears no clothes, and it’s hard to know what to make of him at first–a lost soul, a reject from another world, a person looking to return to his origin? His one differing physical trait is a pair of weirdly formed ears.

Alithea is enchanted by this unexpected encounter, which offers the chance to travel back in time with a suitable companion

But the journey is shadowed by the question of why the Djinn is around, and how he plans to deal with his exile.

The tale then turns to the realm of literary and quasi-religious myth by reaching into flashbacks.

He laments, “I was left in my own oblivion” and has been “extravagantly unlucky” while nonetheless been engaged legendary moments.

Three Episodes

The Djinn guides Alithea through three different episodes, in exchange for which he will be granted his freedom. The first involves the Queen of Sheba, a story of unrequited love; the second involves a slave girl from the court of Suleiman; and the third a love story gone awry in the 1850s.

In these successive tales, the film bogs down–characters not only come and go all too quickly; they are also uninvolving and off-putting.

Unfortunately, the real story of the Djinn and Alithea is sidelined through all of this–until the end, when the Djinn tries to decide his ultimate fate.

The movie’s appeal is limited to viewers interested in mythology and age-old stories–and to fans of Swinton and Elba, two of current cinema’s most creative and exciting forces.