Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a narrative scholar, that is, she studies stories. She’s hugely pragmatic and down to earth (not least indicated by her Northern accent, natch; an element I found hugely irritating), although given to some flights of fancy. Thus when she manages to unleash a literal genie from a bottle while visiting Istanbul for a conference, she first assumes he’s a figment of her imagination. Slowly accepting that he might be real, her years of studying story and myth make her highly wary of any offer of wishes. Three, of course.

The djinn (Idris Elba) is determined to gain his freedom by granting those wishes, though, and so sets about telling his tale in an effort to garner some trust.

And so we embark on the bulk of the film’s gorgeous, epic story-within-a-story, as the djinn takes us back centuries to a very Arabian Nights-esque tale of desire and love lost. Three times he is imprisoned, and each time there is a tale to why he was unable to secure his release. A concubine seeking her master’s favour, a Persian prince obsessed with fighting, a woman with a brilliant mind stuck in a time that won’t allow her to shine – and now a solitary academic.

These are the parts of the film I loved, the exotic past, the richness of the visuals and the djinn’s storytelling. But otherwise, it’s a very sedately paced movie, framed by a very simple moment of two people in a hotel room.

The latter part of the movie changes location and tack, and while it all rounds out the overall tale, it wasn’t as interesting to me – either the shift to romantic drama, or the less glamorous location of modern day London.

And coming away from the movie, I thought there was a lot unanswered. Was there really a djinn, or was Alithea fantasising the whole thing? It’s a little unclear – and tbh I’m not all that keen on the “make up your own mind, oh viewer!” kind of style. And there’s very little explained about some of her pre-genie ‘visions’, which puzzled me.

And still, I’m glad I saw it. Stories about stories are like catnip for me, and the two main actors are both excellent – accents aside 😉

Three Thousand Years of Longing posterReleased:  2nd September 2022
Viewed: 16th September 2022
Running time: 108 minutes
Rated: 15

My rating: 7/10

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2 thoughts on “Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

  1. This one sounds like there was a much better movie “in there somewhere,” but it wasn’t fully realized. I know the premise, and with that cast and director you’d think it would be better. I saw the trailer and it looked like it would have more action in it than it sounds like there is.

    Liked by 1 person

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