Three Thousand Years Of Longing – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 48 minutes, Director – George Miller

An isolated woman (Tilda Swinton) is reluctant to use the three wishes given to her by a Djinn (Idris Elba) as she tries to deconstruct his past through her own knowledge of historical tales.

By the time we reach what’s presumed to be the second half of Three Thousand Years Of Longing the film’s somehow over in about twenty minutes. This is largely down to the fact that the film’s 108 minute run-time flies by as you’re engrossed in the various stories that are told by Idris Elba’s Djinn about his life and the various bottles that he’s been trapped in, all whilst attempting to move from one life to the next by simply granting three wishes.

His life has been spent observing humans and helping a handful of figures achieve their hearts desires, although not always to their benefit or his own. It’s a pattern that isolated literary scholar Alithea (Tilda Swinton) notices as she tries to pick apart his stories when accidentally opening the Djinn’s bottle whilst cleaning it – after a chance purchase in a small Istanbul shop. She’s looking for reasons not to trust the mystical figure before her, trying to prove that he’s a trickster, and that she doesn’t need anything. Yet, she finds fascination within the stories against ancient settings and civilisations that she’s being told.


As the film depicts the two characters conversing in a hotel room it sees them discussing tales and stories, the ways in which they work and how reality and differ and reflect. We see the stories brought to life via flashbacks – making up much of the run-time – the style and look of which feel as if they’ve been directly taken from a fable and put on the big screen. Stylistically and visually there’s plenty to engage in and it simply helps to enhance the idea of the stories that are being told whilst always remembering that there are two people progressing them through their conversation and recounts. As details progress and the workings and wants of the Djinn are explored Alithea’s claim of “I find feeling through stories” begins to quietly echo in her actions.

The film is largely concerned with the Djinn’s story and longing for escape and freedom. Yet, there’s a point where it switches to begin to look at Alithea. It’s here that it feels like the second half is coming into play. The tone appears to slightly change as the driving force is somewhat switched and the story plays out from a different perspective, it feels as if we’re going to see the progression of Alithea’s story. Whereas what we get is the progression of the former’s tale just from another perspective, although with development for both characters. Perhaps on a re-watch with this understanding the change in tone may not be as noticeable. Certainly there isn’t quite a dip, but a slight difference comes about thanks to the new perspective – even if it is Alithea telling the narrative through a voiceover appearing every now and then throughout the film.

However, even amongst this the feeling of a tale being unfurled is still very much present. It’s an idea that the film comes back round to as its central point and style and uses to hold your engagement. The stories and the way in which their detailed by Alithea picking them apart with her knowledge of ancient tales are the most engrossing parts of the film. Enhanced by the ways in which they work and develop to grow your interest thanks to the way rules are written into the story of the Djinn and there’s plenty to be wrapped up in without things being bogged down in detail. They simply come across as part of the nature of the story, further pushing the style that they present themselves with. All contributing to your overall interest and engagement which simply allows for things to flash by with ease.

Rushing by with great ease Three Thousand Years Of Longing engages you with the details of its stories, enhanced by the conversations and questions of Swinton and Elba’s central characters it simply wraps you up within its fable-like nature and doesn’t let go.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One thought on “Three Thousand Years Of Longing – Review

  1. This was the most boring pointless film I have watched. It starts as a good story with hints of possible things to come and about half way through losses its way. The ending is flat and it was just awful. At the cinema I heard at least 5 people snoring watching this. My advice would be to avoid

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