Review of three thousand years of nostalgia

GROUND: A woman alone discovers a Djinn locked in her bottle. He offers her three wishes in exchange for her freedom.

EXAM: George Miller is a filmmaker who continues to impress. It’s impossible not to connect the man to the brilliant franchise around madmax. Yet people sometimes overlook the variety of Miller’s work. The director gave us a heart with Baby: Pig in the city and heartache with Lorenzo’s oil. And he even made a super cute dancing penguin in happy feet. And now Miller’s latest version takes on another fantasy element, a genie in a bottle. Three thousand years of nostalgia is a fantasy starring Tilda Swinton as a lonely art scholar who finds an old bottle, one that contains a Djinn (Idris Elba). It’s a strange and slightly wild story of two lonely souls who magically discover each other.

Tilda Swinton is Alithea, a scholar who picks up an old bottle and is fascinated by its design. She brings this artifact to her hotel room, unaware that something magical might happen. While trying to clean the bottle, she breaks the seal, this releases The Djinn (Elbe). As her body transforms before her, this giant-sized genius seems happy to see someone outside of her lonely home. However, when he reveals his need to grant three wishes, he is surprised at this strange woman’s lack of interest in making a wish. Thus, she convinces him to tell her stories of the old days and how he found himself a prisoner seeking to grant three wishes.

220413_TTYOL_g011.0437853_RC Idris Elba stars as The Djinn and Tilda Swinton as Alithea Binnie in director George Miller’s film THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF DESIRE A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo Credit: Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc. © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved

George Miller crafted what is unabashedly an adult fairy tale – not that kind of “adult fairy tale” guy. It’s a whimsical tale that features a woman and a genie telling her stories. While that’s not to say the whole movie is two people talking, it’s a big part of the movie. That said, watching Swinton and Elba work together is magical. Swinton’s casual reaction to this hulking man who can change his shape from the size of a truck to being able to fit in a bottle is telling. It is not the mystical element that she seeks; it is the company. And yes, both actors are terrific with delicious energy and chemistry to spare.

Another element is the story of the Djinn of Elba. His conversation with Alithea becomes the part of the storyteller as he reveals his past. The stories include several examples of how he came into his desperate and lonely position. The epic moments and more tales presented here are sometimes intriguing and visually awe-inspiring. They feature tales that would feel right at home for a child’s bedtime reading. Yet, strangely, they aren’t as convincing as Swinton and Elba talking in an expensive hotel room. Even still, some of the stories feature a bit of action and adventure that Miller expertly maneuvers.

The look of the film is more than impressive. Miller and cinematographer John Seale have created a storybook that comes to life. When the Djinn first appears, it is the size of a tractor-trailer needing to make room in a hotel room. It’s such a bizarre visual that every element looks like something you’d read in a fable. In many ways, Three thousand years of nostalgia reminded me of Neil Jordan’s horror show The company of wolves. Both films feature stories like Little Red Riding Hood or Aladdin and the Lamp, but they both receive a more cerebral storytelling with strong visuals. However, unlike the horror side of Wolves, Longing is more like a blossoming romance with a historical twist.

by George Miller Three thousand years of nostalgia is a nice feature. The film features excellent performances from Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. While I enjoyed the more whimsical elements featured here, it didn’t quite hit the heights of seeing the two tracks together. Sometimes the Djinn’s past seemed a little slow, even with the occasional adventures they provide. Even still, Miller’s willingness to embark on a fairy tale aimed at more mature audiences is a treat, especially if you enjoy the filmmaker’s travels outside the wilderness. Longing opens this Friday, and if you’re looking for something different from your usual summer blockbuster, you might find solace here.


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