Far from the dusty diesel Mad Max franchise for which it is known, Australian director George Miller's latest cinematic exploration of humanity proves a disconnect between 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road and today. The predecessor of this film is "Furiosa".
Based on the short story "The Genie in the Eye" by A. S. Byatt, adapted by Miller and Augusta Gore, Three Thousand Years of Longing is an ambitious philosophical project, an intellectual analysis of the role of history in human existence. Feeling of desire.
This is a nesting doll embedded in history. The outer layer is narrated by Alithea (Tilda Swinton), a storyteller who travels to Turkey for a lecture. When he arrives, he begins to meet mysterious and magical characters whom he names Jinnah (another term for "genie", referring to the Muslim belief in invisible spirits that inhabit the world and take the form of humans or animals). While lecturing on the enduring purpose of mythology in our modern, science-based world, the genius panics in the audience and disappears.
The film's script is so filled with mythological ideas that some scenes almost overshadow the interesting concepts that Alethea touched on in her speech, which questions the importance of gods, monsters, and creation myths in everyday life when we have science to tell. Where We Are But until Miller dwells on these ideas, they remain in the background of Three, Three Thousand Years of Desire, constantly informing the rest of the film.
Alithea's inner story revolves around the original Jean after she purchases and purifies a mysterious glass bottle at the market. Jean (Idris Elba) enters the hotel room and asks for three wishes. Alithea refuses, saying that passionate stories are meaningless and that she doesn't want or need anything in her independent, single student life. The couple, dressed in white hotel dresses, sit down to chat, and Jean tells her story of being "imprisoned" three times in her bottle and the dangers of unfulfilled wishes stealing her goal.
From the Queen of Sheba to various slaves and sultans and a journey across the Bosphorus, this 3,000-year-old story explores the dangers of desire and the undeniable power of desire, with Miller's stunning beauty and bold visuals. After hearing Jean's story, Alithea realizes her purpose is to love him. Another thing is whether they can harmoniously coexist in the modern world, full of such frequencies and electromagnetic fields.
Miller's vision is serious and honest, wrapped in introduction moments that better understand humanity and tell stories than most films. But it's a very strange film that takes place through the ages, but with the interaction of Alithea and Jeanne. Following the core principles of Miller's gender work, he argues more clearly for human existence, human desires, and that it is the desire for love or survival, or both, that makes us human.
Miller asks the viewer to internalize his exploration of existence, questioning the purpose of the narrative and perhaps the lack of magic in our technological and scientific world. But the movie doesn't provide a definitive answer, leaving you drifting in a sea of tantalizing questions. For a film about storytelling, it squirms and loses focus.
The only messages or lessons of "Three Thousand Years of Wish" have to be learned from the clues left, which is an interesting if somewhat frustrating experience.
Cathy Walsh is a film critic for the Tribune News Service.
"Three Thousand Years of Desire"
Rating: R for some sexual content, nudity, and brief violence.
Performance: general release 26 August.