Everyone has heard the tales of people finding a genie bottle or lamp and being granted three wishes. And rarely does it work out well. Three Thousand Years of Longing may seem like other such stories. In this modern genie tale, Alithea (Tilda Swinton) finds a bottle and releases a DJinn (Idris Elba), and finds herself the recipient of three wishes. The problem? Alithea has heard the tales as well.
You can watch the trailer here:
This movie is not an action-packed blockbuster that culminates with some sky portal opening and hordes of faceless enemies swarming in. This movie examines something that most don’t reflect on: the perspective of the djinn over thousands of years. It is a story within a story, as Elba’s djinn weaves a tale of his encounters with humankind and the loves he developed through the ages. Swinton’s academic character is our critical witness to the tale, who nevertheless gets swept up in the story and ends up making an unexpected wish.
The special effects are neatly woven into the film as just another element of the story that belongs. There are no over-the-top explosions or flashy CGI effects that don’t belong. While the scenes in the telling of the djinn’s story are beautiful and full of magic, they also appear genuine to our understanding of the times referenced.
The stakes of the film aren’t fending off the end of the world or saving the day from some evil force. It’s all about the lives of our two main characters. Alithea, a very accomplished academic, believes her life is complete but is quite mistaken. And the Djinn, who is bound to Alithea by fate and rules, must fulfill these three wishes before he can move on.
The film leads you to think and reflect on the nature of people and their desires. If mindless action is what you prefer, skip this movie. If a beautiful tale of love, heartbreak, and magic is more your style, then I can’t recommend it enough.
Three Thousand Years of Longing is currently playing in theaters in the US. It will be released internationally throughout the month of September.