Fans of George Miller’s work have been waiting for the master’s return to the big screen for 7 years. Each of them hoped to see certain pictures: the continuation of the sensational post-apocalyptic action Mad Max with the unkillable Tom Hardy or the adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey with Brad Pitt, the idea of which was born back in the 2000s. As a result, “Three thousand” came out. But not tons of bloody sand and cannibalistic chases. And not kilometers of the sea route of the king of Ithaca with the same number of adventures. And the years during which the ancient genie granted wishes and waited until at least someone would deign to thank him with eternal freedom.
What is the movie “Three Thousand Years of Longing” about?
“Three Thousand Years of Wishes” is a world of beautiful oriental tales told in a new way, where instead of Aladdin, the lonely Englishwoman Aletheia Binnie (Tilda Swinton) performs. The film is an adaptation of Antonia Byatt’s short story “The Genie in the Nightingale’s Eye Bottle”.
The main character enthusiastically studies folk tales and ancient myths from different parts of the world. He sees how some stories are intertwined with others, overgrown with new facts, and even wander through world cultures. Aletheia keeps many stories and knows how they originated, lined up in a chain of narration and turned into romantic legends that have been passed down from time immemorial. Although the life of a writer is completely devoid of any events and loved ones. But this suits her quite well and does not scare her at all with the prospect of growing old all alone. The woman says she is happy just to exist.
While on a business trip in Istanbul, Aletheia is walking through the local market and notices an unusually shaped antique bottle covered in dust. She takes it to the hotel room and begins to clean it with an electric brush. We recall the rules for operating a magic lamp: you need to rub it properly and a genie will pop out from there. Vibration cleaning works, and a black cloud flies out of the bottle, like from a smoke machine, turning into a huge dark-skinned man with a brutal appearance and elf ears. Yes, Idris Elba is exactly that.
The new guest is ready to fulfill any three desires of his mistress in order to get rid of imprisonment forever and become free from people. It would seem that Aletheia should faint from happiness and voice her first wish for eternal youth in her fall. Then wake up, squeal with joy, ask for a printing press for all the currencies of the world and a prince as faithful as a heel made of titanium. But with writers, as well as with sophisticated moviegoers, such tricks do not work. Especially when it comes to stories that have become their second skin.
The main character remembers very well that such stories in Arabic mythology ended with instructive lessons for the owners of the lamp, where the wish maker himself often lied. Expecting a dirty trick, she is in no hurry to voice her innermost dreams. But the “smoky friend” swears that he will honestly do what her heart desires. Otherwise, he will not be able to go to his homeland – to the kingdom of jinn. “So why didn’t you bother to fulfill other people’s desires and become free in three thousand years?” – the skeptical writer is not appeased. In response, the interlocutor unfolds an action-packed drama in three parts, when people found a bottle, voiced their wishes and imprisoned the genie again in a single glass chamber.
The first attempt to “free” was made in the mid-1500s BC. The viewer is shown George Miller’s version of the famous Old Testament story about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Here the ruler of Sava does not go to Israel to the wisest leader of all existing nations, but rather waits for him to visit. The king comes, courts her and falls under her spell. The genie is in love with Savskaya and in every possible way prevents her connection with Solomon. But if something gets into the head of a powerful woman … The heroes of the novel go to bed, and the unfortunate genie secretly watches them, hiding in the room. The voyeur is discovered by an angry king, imprisoned in a bottle and sent to the bottom of the Red Sea for 2,500 years.
Such changes in the plot of the original story are due to the comparison of the Queen of Sheba with Aletheia. Just as the ruler gives up her love for the genie for the sake of Solomon, the writer devotes his time to the “prisoner in the bottle” instead of scientific work in Istanbul. The two women are comforted by similar music and eat the same sweets, further highlighting their deep connection.
In the second story, the same trend is observed, where the young slave girl Gülten, who found the bottle, is a reflection of Alethea. Both defy the genie’s warnings, blinded by their love. The enslaved wants to be with the prince of the Ottoman Empire Mustafa and have children from him. Both wishes are fulfilled. True, Mustafa is killed because he staged a rebellion against his father, and Gülten will face the same fate. She can save herself from execution, and at the same time free the genie, but she prefers to die for the sake of her dead husband. Aletheia appears equally stubborn in refusing to use all her desires, as she does not trust the “magician from the lamp.” And he also binds the object of adoration to himself, guessing “I want to fall in love with a genie and get reciprocal feelings.” Further stories continue to reveal different sides of the character of the heroine of the film and display models of her behavior.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” hidden meaning
According to the plot, Aletheia, among the many beautiful little things in the market, pays attention to a nondescript bottle with Genie. In the film, the heroine argues whether fate exists and whether it is possible to somehow influence it. Unsurprisingly, Aletheia is concerned about the topic of fate, since the bottle with the Genie seems to have lured her. Perhaps, indeed, fate itself attracted two lonely hearts to each other – Genie and Aletheia. However, Genie’s stories hint that there is a logical explanation for the circumstances of their meeting.
Jinn’s stories featured people who had the blood of jinn. Due to their magical origin, they could sense the Genie in his bottle. Maybe Aletheia is also a descendant of jinn. Then there is no question why it was Aletheia who had hallucinations with genies and found the bottle. True, the descendants of the jinn have long hair on their legs – Aletheia does not have this. However, Aletheia might not have inherited this “hairy” feature due to the fact that the genie was in her family for a very, very long time.
There is also a theory that Aletheia is related to Zephyra, which is why she was attracted to the Genie. The film even drew parallels between the heroines. They are both engaged in science, both characteristically twitch their legs while reading. And, of course, Genie was in love with Zephyra – and then fell in love with Alethea. Maybe Zephyra was a descendant of genies – although she did not find the bottle.
Did the Genie really exist?
At the beginning of the film, Aletheia was visited by genies that only she could see. The heroine believed that these visions were associated with some kind of mental problems. However, there is evidence that the Djinn of Idris Elba was quite a real one.
Towards the end of the picture, Aletheia returned home to London with Genie. Shortly after returning, she began to argue with her mischievous neighbors – two elderly women. Then Aletheia decided to make peace with them and treat them to oriental sweets. After talking with Genie, she realized that you should not be afraid to get close to people, even if you are a loner by nature.
The genie who accompanied Alethea put on a hood to hide his sharp ears, and the old women saw her mysterious companion. And in the scene in the park, the Genie kicked the ball to the guys who were playing there. It turns out that Genie really exists. Unless, of course, all the events of the film are not one continuous illusion of Aletheia. But this is already from the category of conspiracy theories.
Why the Genie couldn’t stay in the human world forever
Aletheia made a wish to Genie – she wanted to feel love for him and get feelings from him in return. As the Genie said, every person has at least one cherished desire. Alethea loves loneliness – she was even glad when she divorced her husband. But she still wanted to feel something—before, she had only studied emotions through stories. Although it is not a fact that the Genie really used magic – it seems that during the conversations the heroes fell in love with each other without magic.
The genie settled in Aletheia’s house in London. He enjoyed living with her and studying humanity. But the Genie began to suffer because of electromagnetic frequencies – from technologies like smartphones and satellites. The genie literally turned to dust. It is curious that he called people dust, and genies – fire. The modern world, as it were, did not accept the ancient creature, which is now considered a myth and fiction. Despite this, the Genie did not even think of leaving his beloved Alethea. Then she decided to save him herself – she made a wish so that he would finally go to the kingdom of genies.
The genie ended up in the realm of genies – where he dreamed of being all his life. However, he still began to periodically visit Alethea in the human world, although he took a big risk. The final scene with Aletheia and Genie walking through the park suggests that the characters are left alone. But at the same time, they are not alone in their loneliness. The main idea of the film is that loneliness is one of the many gifts to a person that can be divided into two.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” ending explained
After Istanbul, the couple goes to London and lives in platonic love. Jinn enjoys spending time with Aletheia and studying humanity. But the abundance of electromagnetic frequencies gives him great inconvenience. “I turn into dust,” he says, once again confirming that he exists not in the head of a writer, but in the realities of the 21st century. The genie calls people dust, and refers to his nature as fiery. A hint that he could become human if he stayed with Aletheia.
At the end of the picture, the genie finally gains the long-awaited freedom and returns to the realm of his own kind. The Englishwoman turns out to be not just decent and understanding, but truly loving. The point is not even in the magic of the genie according to the covenant of her desire, but in a real feeling, which is cultivated in the process of discussing ancient stories and communicating on various existential topics in a hotel room. Aletheia nevertheless throws off the shackles of suspicion, imbued with the sad fate of the genie, trying on his centuries-old experience of suffering and sacrificing her whims for the sake of a creature close to her.
In the last scene, the genie visits the heroine. It would seem that two singles are walking in the park and remain alone. But we don’t know what might happen in the future. The director gives an open ending, showing that Aletheia’s communication with the genie is their conscious choice after everyone gets what they want. Games with desires are over, but true feelings remain.
The question arises: Why did Aletheia manage to free the genie, while other women did not? Each of the heroines of the stories told was a hostage of her passion, obsessed with some desire, the fulfillment of which was necessary for her personal happiness. In fact, they became even more attached to their desires and neglected the freedom of the genie. Aletheia partly did the same. But the main difference was that she initially did not have captivating dreams about anything. She just wanted to feel what love is. And the choice fell on the genie even before making a wish, because their relationship developed voluntarily, with mutual sympathy and respect, and not according to “the genie’s command and someone’s desire.”