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Parents' Guide to

Three Thousand Years of Longing

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Gorgeous but talky fairy tale has sex, nudity, murder.

Movie R 2022 108 minutes
Three Thousand Years of Longing Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

An Unflinching Observation of Human Love

This is, in essence, a love story. It tells a story both *about* love and how its characters deal with love. This is not the typical trickster-in-a-bottle genie story. It is the thoughtfully expressed and richly depicted story of a djinn's life, told in the voice of a woman who loved him. Regarding nudity or violence, there's no more in this movie than high school students will find in world history or in classical art. Most scenes are from times when life was shockingly cheap and indignities were so casually inflicted, which is the bulk of the reason I'm recommending viewers be at least 16 years old. But both nudity and violence are appropriately contextualized within their settings. While there's more of both than many of us are accustomed to seeing on the screen, this movie does an excellent job of representing what's healthy and what's unhealthy without blurring that boundary (any more than the reality of human limitations already does). There's plenty in this story to invite thoughtful conversation between parents and teenagers, so parents need to be mentally available to talk about what's likely to be a range of issues regarding human dignity (how we treat others, how we reasonably expect to be treated, and how to deal with both), body image (some of the body hair is hilarious, and to describe the obesity as "plainly depicted" might be irresponsibly charitable), the choices we make and why, the different natures of different kinds of love, *dealing* with how expressing desire can be self-defeating, and whatever else might pop into our kids' heads (always fertile ground for the unexpected). It's unusual for me to finish a movie with a feeling of gratitude I'd seen it, but "Three Thousand Years of Longing" pulled that off. I very seldom give something 5 stars, but I wish I could give this one 4.75. My only unmet preference is for a more emotionally satisfactory ending, but as the narrator warns us at the start, this isn't a fairytale.
age 18+

For adults only

This amazing movie was directed by George Miller who is best known for Mad Max. Some of you may have also seen one of his earlier stories, Lorenzo’s Oil ( A true story, which this is not). 3000 Years of Longing is an R rated fairy-tale full of the violence of history, with plenty of nudity and sex. (But these scenes, although graphic, are key to the story, and are not erotic) This is the story of a Genie ( also called a Djinn) who grants three wishes to a woman who refuses to ask for anything. Tilda Swinton plays Alithea, who is a British scholar of Storytelling. She describes herself as a “narratologist,” or a studier of stories, and she prides herself on her self-sufficiency. But she eventually falls in love with the Djinn, as he is telling his story of being held captive in the bottle for generation. She initially resists making a wish because she is afraid of admitting to any kind of want or desire, since she knows this inevitably leads to pain. To make a wish is to ask for something, and to acknowledge a desire. But the Djinn has spent three millennia telling tales of longing, love and this inspires her yearning. This is a strange but bewitching fable for grown ups. The theme of this movie is about the innate human desire for love, but also for something more. For something beyond: for fantasy. All of the Djinn’s stories are about longing, love and desire. The first is about the the Queen of Sheba, and it twists the biblical narrative to make King Solomon an erotic enchanter. This first tale, provocatively told, shapes the rest of the movie. And about the paradox of being human, our intrepid selves and our shadow selves. So much human achievement is depicted here, and so much human atrocity. As is observed near the end of the picture, “Despite all the whiz-bang, we remain befuddled.” The stories from the Djinn are full of violence and lust. One King is morbidly obese and has a fetish for women who are equally large, who he drools over. It’s full of nudity, but it’s not erotic. It’s “Fellini-esque. “ In the final chapter of the story, the film moves to England and becomes a critique of our modern world as the Djinn observes the marvels of modern life, this chaotic digital age. He realizes that granting Alithea her wishes is corroding his existence. The movie ends as a sad but sweet love story where goodbyes are essential. This is a spiritual and emotional movie, and is a cautionary tale about love and how complex it is. It’s full of amazing images, and left me longing for not 3000 years, but for eternity and a love that never ends.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (3 ):

The reason a film about the art of storytelling is needed is the same reason why this gorgeously shot historical epic can drag a bit. Direct, in-depth, meaningful conversation is frequently being lost in favor of messages delivered in quick bits and bites -- whether that's a clip on social media or fast edits in a film. People are impatient, and listening to long stories -- even when they're illustrated with beautiful and engaging action -- will be boring to some. When combined with the characters' formal way of speaking and occasional dips into ancient languages, it's a safe bet that you can count most teens out.

With Three Thousand Years of Longing, George Miller has created a fairy tale for adults. As the djinn tells tales of his past wish-grantees, the movie explores the sometimes intertwining notions of love and freedom. The djinn tells story after story of men and women who are trapped by circumstance but don't take the way out, even when it's offered. There are very few adults who don't know someone like that. Full of deep thoughts, depictions of all kinds of love, and explorations of how patriarchal environments are limiting to both women and men, Miller offers rich material for (yup) direct, in-depth, and meaningful conversations. While the perpetual narration might make you wish occasionally for the 1,000-year version, it's likely you'll be talking about this movie for months.

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