Of epic scope, Three Thousand Years of Longing marries literature with cinema, but fails to deliver its ambitious construction: The Tribune India
We could have waited forever to see Idris Elba as Bond, but until that happens, he’s reveling as a sweet, hopelessly in love djinn. Three Thousand Years of Longing cuts across many worlds, weaving so many themes into George Miller’s famously Mad Max directorial that is quite distinct from his previous outings.
Dr Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is a literary scholar from London. She thinks her imagination gets better when she is in Istanbul for a convention. From her big bazaar, she chooses a souvenir, to find herself face to face with a nice djinn (Idris Elba). This jinn with limited powers is tenacious. In order to persuade her, he tells her three stories. As the worlds of Fire and Dust collide, Alithea asks what her heart desires…
In Three thousand years of nostalgia, literature intersects with cinema in a beautiful way. From the contemporary world where students wear masks during a lecture, we are taken to distant lands. In the ancient past to the stories of Sheba, who was beauty herself, the power of desire in the Ottoman Empire and Zefir and her insatiable thirst for knowledge. We get involved in these stories while this jinn in the “convenience” format, infinitely curious about human life, strives to regain his freedom.
Idris Elba is sincere and touches your heart like “an extravagant fool of bad luck”. He is as handsome on the outside as his character comes out at heart. Alithea is an adorable character and has the interesting name of the Greek mythological goddess of truth. In fact, both characters are too good and give. Tilda Swinton plays the role beautifully. But there is something wrong, just as it feels for the film. This “epic in scope” film touches on too many themes – ageism, body positivity, consent, gender bias, racism and xenophobia – among others.
What certainly works is John Seale’s cinematography and Tom Holkenborg’s music that takes the viewer as if across the seven seas. Based on the short story by AS Byatt, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye has terrific CGI that follows the plot’s ambitious programming. The ending warms your heart, but the film only partially fulfills the cinematic experience. Lasting 108 minutes, Three Thousand Years of Longing runs in cinemas.