THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens with a woman, Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton), narrating a story about herself, which she says she will tell as a fantasy. She is arriving in Istanbul for a convention where she will be speaking with other scholars, as Alithea studies mythology.
Upon arriving, a small man approaches Alithea and puts his hand on her luggage handle, whispering something to her and emitting a strange glowing energy from his hand. Alithea joins her colleagues as they head to the convention. She delivers a speech on mythology and its connection to reality, when she sees a large metal-looking man in the audience. As she walks away, the metal man appears to charge after her, and Alithea passes out. The other professors help her to her feet, and she gives a thumbs up to the audience.
Alithea is invited by Professor Gunhan (Erdil Yasaroglu) to an antique shop. She finds a glass bottle that the shop owner describes as being blown centuries earlier. While Gunhan offers to buy Alithea something that looks nicer, she is fascinated by the bottle and asks for it.
Back in her hotel room, Alithea cleans the bottle since it has fire damage. When she brushes it with her electric toothbrush, the bottle opens and unleashes a Djinn (Idris Elba). The Djinn appears gigantic at first, but he is able to bring himself down to a normal but still imposing size, and he demonstrates his powers to Alithea by absorbing knowledge from the TV and grabbing a projection of Albert Einstein from the screen. He also tells Alithea about his powers to grant wishes, but states the limits to his powers, such as being unable to grant immortality or absolve sins. His ultimate desire is to be free from his imprisonment, but Alithea thinks he is trying to trick her.
Alithea talks to the Djinn, where she tells him some information on herself. She went to an all girls school and created an imaginary romance with a boy that she wrote about called Enzo. She also tells the Djinn that she was once married to a man named Jack (Peter Bertoni), and she was pregnant with a boy they planned to call Enzo, but it is implied that Alithea miscarried and her marriage ended sadly. The Djinn then proceeds to tell Alithea about how he came to be imprisoned. Thousands of years earlier, the Djinn was in love with Queen Sheba (Aamito Lagum), but King Solomon (Nicholas Mouawad) sought her as well. He traveled far and won her over by playing the harp for her. While Solomon took Sheba to bed, he sensed the Djinn’s presence and imprisoned him in a brass bottle, which he threw into the ocean, leaving him there for over 2000 years.
A Djinn’s Dilemma
The Djinn continues telling Alithea of what has led him to this point. The brass bottle was found by a slave girl named Gulten (Ece Yuksel), who was in love with Prince Mustafa (Matteo Bocelli). She encountered the Djinn, who granted her the wishes of wooing Mustafa and becoming pregnant with his child. However, Mustafa’s father, Sultan Suleiman (Lachy Hulme), had a favored concubine, Hurrem (Megan Gale), who convinced Suleiman that Mustafa was making a play for his throne and might deceive him to do so. Suleiman hired assassins to murder Mustafa and go after Gulten. The Djinn begged her to make a third wish to save herself, but she was caught and killed before she could do so, and the Djinn remained in the brass bottle.
Two Brothers and a Giantess
Long after, there lived two young brothers, Murad (Ogulcan Amran Uslu) and Ibrahim (Jack Braddy). As children, the two came close to finding the brass bottle where the Djinn remained trapped, but they could barely move the stone where Gulten had hidden it. Murad went off to fight before he could take over his kingdom. Their mother left Ibrahim in a “prison” with concubines of his choosing. Ibrahim had a preference toward more voluptuous and heavyset women. Murad was more violent and bloodthirsty, casually killing other men in the kingdom for sport. After Murad died, Ibrahim was forced to become ruler against his wishes. He retained his harem of concubines and had a lead one named Sugar Lump (Anna Adams). While wandering through the caverns, Sugar Lump slipped, and her body smashed the stone that was guarding the brass bottle. The Djinn is summoned, but despite him trying to get Sugar Lump to make a wish, she rejects his gifts and wishes he be sent back to where he came from, so he is once again forced to be imprisoned in the bottle at the bottom of the ocean.
Back in the present, Alithea becomes annoyed with the Djinn and his badgering for her to make wishes. They get into an argument, culminating in Alithea saying that she is beginning to wish that they never met. This causes the Djinn to freak out, as this has happened to him before.
The Complication of Zefir
The Djinn tells one more story about a young scholar named Zefir (Burcu Golgedar). She was married at the age of 12 to a much older man, who favored her over his two older wives (and so they hated her). When she wasn’t satisfying her husband’s needs, Zefir pursued knowledge. The husband discovered the brass bottle and gave it to Zefir as a gift. After unleashing the Djinn, Zefir wished for expanded knowledge. While staying with her, the Djinn began to fall in love with Zefir and showed her his magic, including a new bottle he made for himself (the same one Alithea found). However, Zefir grows overwhelmed, and when the Djinn attempts to hide himself in the bottle until she is better, Zefir uses her last wish to say that she wishes they never met, so she forgets all about the Djinn.
After the Djinn finishes his stories, Alithea makes her first wish for them to fall in love. The Djinn picks her up and they appear to begin to make love as cosmic imagery surrounds them.
Alithea brings the Djinn with her back to London. She has to deal with two bigoted neighbor women, calling them out on their behavior. The Djinn convinces Alithea to be better than them by offering them a chickpea snack that the Djinn first offered to her. The women meet the Djinn and are cordial with him.
Sometime passes, and the Djinn begins to grow weaker, with his body appearing to decay due to cell towers and satellite transmissions affecting the material that his body is made of. Alithea tries to help and uses her second and third wishes to get the Djinn to speak again and for him to be healed, meaning he will be free and returned to his own world.
Three years later, Alithea has written a new book. She is surprised to see the Djinn, now fully healed, having come to visit her. As they walk off together, Alithea’s closing narration states that the Djinn would continue to visit her every now and then.
Alithea Binnie is a lonely scholar studying mythology. She comes across a glass bottle that contains a Djinn, who offers to grant Alithea three wishes so that he may finally be free since he has been imprisoned for three thousand years. Alithea believes he is a trickster, but the Djinn tells Alithea four separate stories about how he came to be where is now, and how the stories all involve themes of love and desire.
The Djinn was in love with the Queen of Sheba until King Solomon won her over and imprisoned him in a brass bottle. After over two thousand years, the Djinn meets a slave girl named Gulten in love with Prince Mustafa, but his father, the Sultan, has them killed after his head concubine convinces him they are making a play for his throne. The Djinn is kept sealed away until he lives around the time two brothers inhabit the space he dwells in. One of the brothers' concubines comes across his bottle but wishes him to go back to where he came from. The Djinn is later found by a man who gives the bottle to his wife Zefir, and she wishes for knowledge. While the Djinn falls in love with Zefir, she becomes overwhelmed by him and she wishes they never met so she will forget him.
Alithea and the Djinn fall in love, but his prolonged exposure to the modern world does damage to his body, so Alithea wishes for his freedom. After three years, the Djinn is healed and is able to continue visiting Alithea.