Photo: ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’
The Director’s Past Works
Throughout his career, filmmaker George Miller will always be recognized as the man who directed the ‘Mad Max Trilogy.’ However, he has experimented with other genres by making films that are outside his comfort zone from the action genre that he is known for. In his past filmography, George Miller has contributed to a segment in ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie.’ He dabbled with the fantasy genre by making ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ which tells the tale of three single women who have their wishes permitted with a price when an enigmatic man meets them. After the film, he made the biographic film ‘Lorenzo’s Oil,’ a true story about Lorenzo Odone, a -five-year-old Virginian boy who is diagnosed with an incurable and degenerative brain disease called adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).
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The parents (played by Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon) take it upon themselves to search for a cure for their son’s illness which leads to the development of Lorenzo’s oil. In 1998, he directed ‘Babe: Pig in the City,’ a sequel to the 1995 film ‘Babe’- which he wrote with the director, Chris Noonan. In 2006, he made his first animated film ‘Happy Feet’ and the 2011 sequel, ‘Happy Feet Two.’ In 2015, he released the reboot ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ and gathered a lot of praise for the dazzling action sequences and the proper use of practical effects, and the proper use of CGI. Finally, he is back in the director’s chair by making ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing,’ a dark fantasy film which is based on A.S Byatt’s short story, ‘The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye’. George Miller co-wrote the film with his daughter, Augusta Gore.
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George Miller’s Take of the Genie Genre
The movie stars Tilda Swinton as Alithea Binnie, a lonely British narratologist who serves as the protagonist and occasionally narrates the story. She dreadfully experiences strange visions of demonic entities during her visit to an airport or when it happens in one of her lectures. When she goes on a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, she buys an antique bottle and summons a Djinn (who is played by Idris Elba), which is another word for a genie. The Djinn expect Alithea to ask for three wishes, and they have to be sincere in order for them to come true. To his surprise, he learns that the main character does not have any desire to grant any wishes. On top of that, she is skeptical of his presence.
The story mostly takes place in a hotel. Unlike any of the ‘Mad Max’ movies, George Miller relies on dialogue and the Djinn’s narration to keep the viewer interested while presenting the flashbacks of his stories. The film does not give into the traditional sense of storytelling and decides to be as original as it can be. He does not give in to action or violent scenes to entertain audiences. It is a character study that is heavily invested in two lonely beings who take their time to get to know one another since the genie himself has been through a lot while the main character is simply a mortal human. What the audiences know in this complex story is that the Djinn must get his three wishes asked by Alithea so he can be free. However, she refuses since she believes that the concept of thinking of wishes and having them being granted by a genie has always been a cautionary tale that will not have any good results. She would rather get to know the Djinn instead of coming up with personal wishes.
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The director George Miller is a very technical director despite the fact that he is directing a fantasy film instead of an action film. The film uses a lot of CGI to show Djinn’s past life. As Elba’s character shares his stories, we are presented with scenes of his affection for the Queen of Sheba (played by Aamito Lagum) and his unhappiness of witnessing her succumb to the sensual charms of King Solomon (played by Nicholas Mouwad). Then the genie informs the protagonist about the Ottoman court of Suleiman the Magnificent (played by Lachy Hulme). He also goes on about the ruthless sovereignty of Murad IV (Oğulcan Arman Uslu) and talks about Ibrahim the Mad (played by Jack Braddy). Then he lastly discusses his encounter and his affection for a young married woman named Zefir, which takes place in the harem of an old Turkish business during the 19th century. George Miller does a good job of condensing three thousand years from the Djinn’s back story as his audience is well-invested into it just like Alithea.
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A Character Study of Two Lonesome Souls
As the audiences know, the Djinn is a very lonesome being who longs for his freedom. We can see that he has been through too much, and he wanted someone to understand him and perhaps help him to be set free from captivity. As we see Tilda Swinton’ character paying close attention to the genie, she is succumbing to the character’s background in his life. She has now developed the sense of want. As time goes by, she realizes that the genie has been through too much because just like human beings, the Djinn have experienced love and betrayal. Despite the film being a dark fantasy film that is intended for adults, we become intrigued by the story just like Alithea, since she herself has lost the sense of skepticism. Therefore she listens to the Djinn’s tales as if she was a child. Alithea may be very knowledgeable about folklore and mythology since she is an expert on the concepts of storytelling. She changes her mind through the art of opening her mind and surrendering herself to the Djinn’s stories.
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The film is a different take on the genie genre. The film does not cater to a crowd that favors blockbuster action films. It refuses to have a formulaic approach of telling a genie-in-a-bottle story by having the main character. It is a story that talks about other stories. The movie concentrates on being philosophical in terms of human desires and if the wishes are really worth wishing for. We learn that the Djinn’s stories are about regret, pain, and loss. These themes are very relatable to human beings. These are two lonely beings who have realized that they need something from one another. Within the Djinn’s stories, Alithea was able to realize her ability to desire.
Starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton
Directed by George Miller
Screenplay by George Miller and Augusta Gore
Based on “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye,” by A.S Byatt
Produced by George Miller and Dough Mitchel | Cinematography by John Seale | Edited by Margaret Sixel | Music by Tom Holkenborg
By Marco Castaneda
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