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Starring: Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton, Aamito Lagum, Burcu Gölgedar, Matteo Bocelli
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Fantasy romance directed and co-written by George Miller. Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) follows Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), a scholar, content with life. However, while in Istanbul attending a conference, encounters a Djinn, Genie (Idris Elba), who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Their conversation then leads to consequences neither would have expected, and eventually, she makes a wish that surprises them both.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Love is a gift. It's a gift of oneself given freely. It's not something one can ever ask for.' - Alithea (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
Alithea: My name is Alithea. My story is true. You’re more likely to believe me, however, if I tell it as a fairytale.
Alithea: So, once upon a time, when humans hurtled across the sky on metal wings, when they wore webbed feet and walked on the bottom of the sea, when they held in their hands glass tiles that could coax love songs from the air, there was a woman, adequately happy and alone. Alone by choice. Happy because she was independent, living off the exercise of her scholarly mind. Her business was story. She was a narratologist who sought to find the truths common to all the stories of humankind. To this end, once or twice a year, she ventured to strange lands. To China, the South Seas, and the timeless cities of the Levant, where her kind gathered to tell stories about stories.
Alithea: So, Professor, are you saying you believe in djinn?
Prof. Gunhan: I believe there are those who need to believe in them.
Alithea: Including me?
Prof. Gunhan: Djinn, ghosts, aliens, whatever helps.
Prof. Gunhan: As Dr. Binnie has encouraged us to understand, stories were once the only way to make our bewildering existence coherent.
Alithea: That’s exactly right. We gave name to the unknown forces behind all wonder and catastrophe, by telling each other stories.
'It is always wise to understand those who have a hold on you.' - The Djinn (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
Prof. Gunhan: There is mythos, and there is science.
Alithea: Mythology is what we knew back then. Science is what we know so far. Sooner or later, our creation stories are replaced by the narratives of science. Painstaking science. And all gods and monsters outlive their original purpose, and are reduced to metaphor.
Alithea: Lately, my imagination’s been getting the better of me. Ambushing me. I think it’s a warning.
Prof. Gunhan: About what?
Alithea: Not to be complacent. To keep on my toes. It manifests rudely from time to time. I try not to fight it off. It takes charge for a moment, and then it steps back.
Prof. Gunhan: You are behaving like a child. Do you know that?
Alithea: You know, I am actually a child.
Alithea: If there is fate, can we escape it? Who can say? But I tell you this, in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, there are sixty-two streets, and four thousand shops. And in one of those shops, there are three rooms. In the smallest of those rooms, there was a pile of things unsorted, old and new. From the bottom of that pile, I chose a memento.
'The way my brain is wired is the the source both of my power and my solitude. I suspect that's why I like stories. I find feelings through stories.' - Alithea (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
Alithea: [referring to the antique bottle] I like it. Whatever it is, I’m sure it has an interesting story.
Alithea: [after the Djinn appears] I don’t suppose you speak English? Deutsch? Espanol? Ellinika?
The Djinn: [to Alithea, in ancient Greek] Please do not fear me, nor treat me casually. I am beholden to you for this release. On that account, I must grant you three wishes. There are laws which cannot be broken. Three is three. A number of power.
The Djinn: [in ancient Greek] You may not wish for endless wishes.
Alithea: [in ancient Greek] Yes. I’m familiar with the concept.
The Djinn: [in ancient Greek] Nor may you wish for eternal life. It is your nature to be mortal. Mine to be immortal. Nor can I absolve sin, or end all suffering. I am only a Djinn.
Alithea: [in ancient Greek] That’s reasonable.
The Djinn: [in ancient Greek] These are the limits.
'There's no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale. None end happily. Not even the ones that are supposed to be jokes.' - Alithea (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
The Djinn: [referring to the TV] I am a Djinn of modest power, but I begin to understand these transmissions.
Alithea: Oh. You’ve learned to speak my language.
The Djinn: This English is straightforward. Its rules quickly learn, I find.
The Djinn: [as he takes out Einstein from the TV] Would you like this little Albert for yourself?
Alithea: No. No. No. No, that can’t be good for him. Put him back.
The Djinn: I could expand him. We could speak with him.
Alithea: No. Put him back.
The Djinn: Is that your wish?
Alithea: No. It’s your obligation!
The Djinn: So, what will you wish for? What is your heart’s desire?
Alithea: Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I need to take this slow.
The Djinn: I have all the time in the world.
Alithea: A more convenient size, I see.
The Djinn: I do what I can to fit in.
'Hope is a monster, and I am its plaything.' - The Djinn (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
Alithea: How come you found your way into my bottle?
The Djinn: Ah, it’s quite a story. That was my third incarceration.
Alithea: You’ve been trapped in a bottle three times?
The Djinn: I may be a djinn, but I’m also a fool with too great a fondness for the conversation of women. I need to be more careful in the future.
Alithea: How were you caught in the first place?
The Djinn: By desire. How else?
Alithea: Who was she?
The Djinn: Sheba.
Alithea: The Queen of Sheba?
The Djinn: [referring to Sheba] Never have I wanted a creature so.
Alithea: And she desired you in return?
The Djinn: I was her plaything. Her confidante. I might have become more, but for Solomon.
Alithea: King Solomon?
The Djinn: He came from across the deserts to woo her.
Alithea: Didn’t she go to him?
The Djinn: No. Never.
Alithea: But it’s in all the holy books. All the stories and the paintings. And Handel wrote music about it.
The Djinn: Madam, I was there. Solomon came to her.
'We exist only if we are real to others.' - The Djinn (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
The Djinn: [referring to Solomon] He was a great magician, and imprisoned me with a word of power into a brass bottle. She made no plea for me. I was nothing to her. A breath in a bottle. And so, I was cast into the Red Sea and languished for two and a half thousand years.
Alithea: Apart from sleep, what does one do in a bottle for two and a half thousand years?
The Djinn: Djinn don’t sleep.
Alithea: So, how do you manage then?
The Djinn: Well, for the first hundred years, I rage against my fate.
The Djinn: I spend my time in waking dreams revisiting all the stories of my life. And when I have exhausted this many, many times, I return to my prayer and my rage. And then, finally, I play a trick on myself. I pray to remain in the bottle.
Alithea: And does that work?
The Djinn: To yearn for nothing? To pretend to want nothing more than to be contained in a bottle? No. For a djinn, it is the closest we ever come to death.
'How can it be a mistake to love someone entirely?' - The Djinn (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
Alithea: Do you know the answer to her question?
The Djinn: What women most desire?
The Djinn: Do you not know? If you do not know, I cannot tell you.
Alithea: Well, surely, we don’t all want the same thing.
The Djinn: Madam, your yearnings are not at all clear to me.
Alithea: I’m at a point in my life where I have all I need. I daresay I’m content, and gratefully so.
The Djinn: Tell me. Are you a wife? A widow? A mother, perhaps?
Alithea: I have no children, no siblings, no parents. I did once have a husband.
Alithea: It’s not much of a story.
The Djinn: But it is a story. It is your story, and it is always wise to understand those who have a hold on you.
'Love is not something we come to by reason. It's more like a vapor, a dream, perhaps, to lure us into the enchantment of our own stories. If that's so, how are we to know if it's ever real? Is it a truth, or simply a madness?' Click To Tweet
Alithea: [referring to her husband] We passed the years comfortably, and then as it happens, it all evaporated, and we became less.
The Djinn: And where is he?
Alithea: He’s in Hackney, with Emmeline Porter. He told me I was incapable of reading feelings. I was incapable of reading his feelings.
Alithea: The way my brain is wired is the the source both of my power and my solitude. I suspect that’s why I like stories. I find feelings through stories.
Alithea: I thought I might grieve a loss and betrayal. But, no. In fact, I was free. I was like a prisoner emerging from a dungeon into the sunlight. I expanded into the space of my own life. No, I could not wish for more.
'Each story we tell is a fragment in an endless shape-shifting mosaic. And this small pebble, like all stories, must end.' - Alithea (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
The Djinn: You are a wise and cautious woman, Alithea. But we all have desires, even if they remain hidden from us.
Alithea: That’s as maybe. But I am also a narratologist, and that is going to be a problem. It’s going to be a very big problem.
Alithea: See, I know all the stories there are about trickster djinn, and the ways in which they manipulate wishing to their own ends.
The Djinn: I am not one of them. I am god-fearing and honorable, and only here to grant your heart’s desire.
Alithea: Well, even if that’s true, how can you rely on those called upon to wish? How do you know you can rely on me?
The Djinn: Well, I hope so. With you, I certainly hope so.
Alithea: There’s no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale. None end happily. Not even the ones that are supposed to be jokes.
The Djinn: But you and I are the authors of this story, and we can avoid all traps.
'Despite all the whiz-bang, we remain bewildered. When we can't contain the chaos, we are filled with dread and panic, and we turn on each other.' - Alithea, 'But of course, you are human. That is your nature.' - The Djinn Click To Tweet
Alithea: Well, what if I made no wish at all?
The Djinn: Pardon?
Alithea: What if I made no wish?
The Djinn: That would be catastrophic!
The Djinn: [referring to Gulten] She made no wish to save herself. No wish was made to save us both. So, there I was, or there I was not, might you say, almost emancipated and tethered to this world by a third wish unperformed.
Alithea: But you realize, don’t you, that you’ve just told me the story of a woman who was doomed as a consequence of the wishes she made?
The Djinn: Yes, but her failure to complete the wishes also doomed me.
The Djinn: Hope is a monster, Alithea, and I am its plaything.
'Humankind, what a conundrum. You fumble around in the dark, and yet, you herd your intelligence to great effect. It is quite a story. I cannot wait to see where it goes.' - The Djinn (Three Thousand Years of Longing) Click To Tweet
Alithea: [referring to Murad] Did it matter to you what kind of wish such a man might make? One so insatiable.
The Djinn: No.
Alithea: Not even if it were profoundly evil?
The Djinn: Not if it meant my freedom.
The Djinn: And there I am, left to my own oblivion, with no one to hear my voice, no one to know me, nor feel me, nor sense me. You can’t imagine.
Alithea: Well, actually, I can.
The Djinn: Can you imagine the loneliness? How it might overwhelm?
Alithea: I can.