“All gods and monsters outlive their original purpose and are reduced to metaphor.”Alithea
The appearance of djinn in Western fiction is oddly liminal, fantastic and yet somehow more plausibly grounded in their foreign exoticism. Such is the appearance of a djinn in the hotel room of professor Alithea on a trip to Istanbul. Granted the traditional three wishes, she is professionally cautious as her study is in global narrative mythology and she knows all too well that in stories wishes always serve as cautionary tales. Cinema feels at times a clumsy medium for this self-referential story about stories (itself adapted from a short story), wonderful as Idris Elba’s deeply intoned narration may be. This is not to say George Miller does not present us with impressive sounds and sights, with evocative use of colour and magical effects constructed from shifting sands and vapours (incidentally visual elements that suffer the most from streaming compression). Three Thousand Years of Longing explores the ways in which we can be trapped by desire, and the foolishness of love at the expense of oneself, but the emotional tone is one of solitude and loneliness, with a longing to be seen as much as for freedom (“We exist only if we are real to others”). There is also an overarching comment that — even as science may reduce our reliance on fictional deities — stories remain how humans understand the world and how we interact with one another, and your enjoyment of the film is likely to reflect how interesting or pretentious you find these ideas.