“Three thousand years of nostalgia” highlights the power of stories

Since george miller rarely goes behind the camera to make a film, it is important to be careful when he does.

In nearly 50 years of career, he directed all the films “Mad Max” and “Happy Feet”. He directed “The Witches of Eastwick”, and co-wrote and produced “Babe” as well as directing its sequel. Given his filmography, it’s hard to see what drives the guy. Which makes it all the more fascinating.

His latest film is “Three thousand years of nostalgia” a downright grown-up fairy tale that challenges the concept of our fantasies while examining the act of storytelling itself. It’s the kind of film one expects from an accomplished filmmaker heading into the twilight of his career, explaining why he spent his life telling incredible stories to a group of strangers sitting in a darkened room. . It’s a personal story, but also very meta too.

Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a narratologist who travels to Istanbul to give a lecture. She explains how scientific knowledge replaces more primitive understandings of the world and how this prior, ignorant view becomes ancient mythology.

Already, audiences sense that this perspective will be debunked by the rest of the film. Also, for anyone inclined to google such things, Alithea is the goddess of truth in Greek mythology. Take note of that too.

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During a souvenir hunt, Alithea buys a bottle. In her hotel room, as she scrubs it, a genie called The Djinn emerges from the ancient receptacle. He’s tall, has oddly pointy ears, and is played by Idris Elba.

He has three wishes to grant, but there are rules to what he can and cannot accommodate. Endless wishes and eternal life are always exempt in these situations. Moreover, the wish must sincerely come from the heart. Always with all these rules with magical beings.

Alithea is skeptical of these powers, despite the fact that this man has come out of a bottle before her eyes. Or maybe she’s afraid of what’s in her heart.

To save time, she asks Djinn about his origins and the painful journey of his eternal life. It begins in biblical times, when Djinn becomes a confidante of the Queen of Sheba as she seeks the love and power of King Solomon. Solomon becomes jealous of Djinn’s abilities and brings him back to the bottle just to be thrown overboard.

The other stories told by the Djinn follow a similar lead. “Longing” is a meditation, not only on love, but on the illusion of time. About how smart, ambitious personalities make the same mistakes because their passions and obsessions lead them to the same results. It’s also about how fantasies – no matter how simple – can be imposed on others without consequence.

The stories that come out of our heads have great power and should be handled with care, storyteller Miller strives to warn.

Watching the movie, my mind drifted to two other underrated gems from the past 15 or so years. “The Fountain” and “Cloud Atlas” both tackled the idea of ​​how love almost metaphysically transcends time, while still retaining fundamental power over those who truly feel it.

There’s something about a story that understands that history isn’t necessarily a study of how things are different, but how things are fundamentally the same. “Longing” joins this strange curiosity of films which have a strong impact on me but little influence on the culture in general.

That is to say, I have no hope for the commercial prospects of this film in the same way that these other two titles probably got you to go out and search for them. “Longing” will not appeal to those looking for a traditionally romantic film. As a fantasy, the perplexing R rating — given for some free front-end business — might turn people away expecting something grittier and less fantastical.

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Almost every relationship in the film is doomed – that’s the point, after all – and the central relationship is hardly fiery. Swinton and Elba are wonderfully unusual screen personalities, but don’t have much chemistry. That’s also the point, but it could be a sidetrack if you’re not warned in advance.

Miller creates a visually wonderful experience. His camera is restless, hyperkinetic. Every time he really wants to disorient you, the images speed up. Considering “Longing’s” relatively limited budget, the historical segments are lavish. Perhaps they were able to save some pennies by limiting Swinton and Elba to a hotel room for most of their screen time.

Either way, the film is a glimpse into Miller’s active and relentless imagination as well as a glimpse into his craft. It’s worth taking a look at the film itself.

In real life, James Owen is a lawyer and executive director of energy policy group Renew Missouri. He created/wrote for Filmsnobs.com from 2001-2007 before a long stint as an on-air film critic for KY3, NBC’s Springfield affiliate. He was named one of the top 20 artists under 30 by the Kansas City Star when he was much younger than he is now.

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