Fantasy Comedy Epic From Mad Max Creator Deserves Way More Love, Stream Without Netflix

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

Hear me out: Idris Elba is the best genie ever on film. George Miller managed to turn a short story into an epic film, Three Thousand Years of Longing, and it’s so beautiful, and the story is so shockingly magnificent that you must stream it on Amazon and tell all your friends. 

A Departure From Mad Max

I’m so used to seeing George Miller’s larger-than-life, explosive, brutal, and deadly productions found in the Mad Max films (no complaints, just saying) that Three Thousand Years of Longing surprised me. It is a movie that has gone vastly underappreciated by audiences who, I would venture to say, have only not seen it because they don’t know about it. 

George Miller wrote the screenplay along with Augusta Gore after finding the short story written by A.S. Byatt, “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye.” While Byatt’s work is far more female forward and empowering, Miller gives us fantasy, magic, and spectacle.

Idris Elba Is A Genie In A Bottle

idris elba

Three Thousand Years of Longing begins with Tilda Swinton’s character, Alithea, giving a lecture on mythology, what makes us hold onto stories for centuries, and why we believe in the characters we love. We see her in private moments struggling with hallucinations of demons, and we watch her wander through the streets of Turkey and into a shop filled with trinkets and trash. She picks out a shiny bottle and haggles over the price, eventually bringing it back to her hotel room. 

In her room, the genie, or djinn (Idris Elba), as he is most commonly known in lore, drifts from the bottle. This scene is such a beautifully rendered one as Elba is already larger-than-life. As The Djinn, he literally becomes larger than life, taking up all the space in the hotel room, with his head reaching into another room and his body stretching across the space occupied by Alithea.

Once he manages to get himself down to reasonable size (still huge), he offers Alithea three wishes. As a counter, Alithea requests the tales that have taken up The Djinn’s three thousand years of longing. 

Love, Life, And Three Thousand Years Of Longing

idris elba

The majority of the film is taken up by his three tales — one that goes all the way back to three thousand years ago when he loved the queen of Sheba, who was his cousin and half-djinn herself. Sadly, she fell in love with King Solomon, who cast The Djinn into a bottle and out into the sea, where he sat for 2,500 years.

In between each story, we cut back to The Djinn in the hotel room with Alithea discussing love, life, and longing. He presses her for her wishes, and she refuses, insisting that wishes are tricks and that there is no good way to make a wish. 

Stunning George Miller Visuals

His three thousand years of longing seem to prove her point, as the next two stories involve women whose wishes go awry. Each of these stories are visually stunning because of Miller’s expertise in helming fantastic productions. As The Djinn wraps up his tale, he finally convinces Alithea to make a wish, and it is the last one you would expect. 

Streaming On Amazon Prime Video


My favorite thing about this film is the relationship between Elba and Swinton on screen. They are both so… British. They carry on in both intellectually stimulating and chemically igniting ways that you find yourself longing for more. While I often lament long films, I could have spent another hour enjoying Three Thousand Years of Longing, and I hope you stream it on Amazon and enjoy it as much as I did.