Turning from Mad Max, George Miller debuts ‘3000’

CANNES, France (AP) — Australian director George Miller took a lot of time and great desire to make “Three Thousand Years of Desire,” his long-awaited “Mad Max: Rampage.” A sequel to The Road.

Miller premiered “Three Thousand Years of Desire” at the Cannes Film Festival over the weekend, the culmination of a journey that Miller began 20 years ago when he first read the AS Byatt story “A Genie in the Eye of a Nightingale” on which the film was based. “

But it was only when the profit friction of Miller’s opera-action “Fury Road” opened a window that “Three Thousand Years of Desire” had its moment.

“After we’ve written it, it’s really a question of when,” Miller said with his stars Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton shortly before the film’s Cannes premiere. “Actually lucky. We had a lawsuit with Warner Bros. on Fury Road, which means, hey, we can make this a priority.”

The unveiling of “Three Thousand Years of Yearning” left most of the Cannes Film Festival audience unable to sit still. What will Miller turn out this time? Can the 77-year-old filmmaker match the propulsive thrill of Mad Max: Fury Road?

The film, which Miller is gearing up to revisit with the prequel “Fury,” premiered at Cannes seven years ago, won an Oscar, grossed $374 million at the box office, and earned a spot on numerous best of the century lists.

The answer, it turns out, is a unique blend of fantasy epic and chamber drama that gets to the heart of Miller’s own feelings about storytelling. The film, which opens Aug. 31, is written by Miller and his daughter, first-time screenwriter Augusta Gore. In it, Swinton plays a narratologist named Alicia Binney, who is in Turkey for a conference on how science can replace myth.

After Alithea buys an old bottle at the Grand Bazaar and scrubs it in her hotel sink, a wishing genie (Elba) appears and fills the room. A long and intimate conversation ensued, in which he told her about his former master for the past 3,000 years. Using computer-generated imagery, Miller fuses mythology and the modern world in a thoughtful, history-spanning fairy tale that firmly believes in magic.

“Some people are great storytellers, and they can use it as a show,” Miller said. “I know I’m struggling with this. I can’t stand up and tell a spontaneous story. But I can do it in super slow motion telling a movie, and I think about every nuance, every rhythm of it .”

Miller is again working with many of his Fury Road collaborators, including cinematographer John Seale, editor Margaret Sissel and composer Tom Holkenborg. But the director senses that, in some ways, “Three Thousand Years” is “anti-Mad Max”—in the absence of “Fury Road” speechless, it’s spread across eras rather than in real time.

Reactions to Three Thousand Years were mixed, but few questioned its ambition or uniqueness.

For all the eras it spans, the film stretches to the present day. The pandemic appears later in the film in scenes with background actors wearing masks. The pandemic also greatly affected the making of the film. Miller transitioned from shooting in a range of international locations to relying on CGI and his native Australia for most of the film.

“When we started talking about the film, it felt very right,” Swinton said. “But now, this year, it’s even more. I think the next one will be more. Your instinct for the wind, it just keeps running. It’s like a seed planted by a man.”

For Miller, “Three Thousand Years of Desire” doesn’t just lead to the present—it goes beyond.

“It’s a very pertinent story,” Miller said. “It’s like a metal detector or a Geiger counter when something actually activates it. You go: ‘Oh, there’s a rich seam somewhere here.'”

“Time will tell if it has enough of it for other people to respond to it. You want the story to become someone else’s, everyone’s,” he said.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

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