Three Thousand Years of Longing: The flawed yet intimate genie

By Robert Richmond

A parable on excess, storytelling and romance along with our never ending search for

meaning. I adore how this film is so non-realist, Alithea (Tilda Swinton) talks about how she

tried writing realism in the past but all it did was disconnect her from her stories. From that

moment, the film is playing its hand telling you we will be watching a formalist piece of art.

It is simply a beautiful movie, the visuals here are absolutely stunning, the djinn design is so

weird while also being appealing, he has a sort of otherworldly beauty. I love how the

parables incorporate real world mysteries like the Queen of Sheba and how this film isn’t

afraid to just let things linger. The bit where King Solomon plays his instrument is one of the

most creative designs I’ve ever seen.

The whole film is incredibly sincere. The sweeping CGI battles and ethereal Djinn effects are

one thing but I like how the Queen of Sheba is portrayed as the most beautiful woman ever,

even with her hairy legs. The second story has a lot of nude plus sized bodies and it’s all

incredibly sincere, the Djinn talks about it as a ‘fetish’ but there’s no scorn on the film’s end,

they’re presented as any other beauty would be. The third story has the gorgeous visuals of

the dreamscape and the Djinn’s darkest moment.

The film does slow down once we leave the hotel but the ultimate resolution of mundane life

killing our dreams and desires still hits hard. Alithea’s seeming lack of wanting creates an

interesting dichotomy, what is her heart’s desire? On the one hand, she wants nothing more

than to set the Djinn free and give him the rest he finally deserves but she also doesn’t want

to let him go and is mostly content with life. Alithea is such an unconventional lead, it’s a

fun inversion to the typical genie story to have the bottle end up in the hands of someone

with absolutely no immediate desires at all.

The film is incredibly moving, I loved Alithea’s story about Enzo, which speaks to the

importance of imagination and non-realism. Without going into details, I adored her final

monologue as well, I was a weepy mess. Also, for the criticism that modern

blockbusters/films in general are too sexless… this has you covered!

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a classic example of the ‘one for me, one for you’

mentality in Hollywood. After making Fury Road a hit and winning tons of Oscars, Miller

was given $60 million to make his ode to storytelling. It’s weird, it’s sincere, it’s romantic,

it’s epic, it’s unconventional and it’s unlike anything currently being made in Hollywood.

Loved Swinton and Elba here, and the rest of the cast being mostly unknowns allowed for

period/regional-accurate casting as well as being unobtrusive, since it’s not like famous

people are popping up to take us out of the captivating stories.

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