It’s imperfections subtle and subjective; the film resonates with a rich psychological tapestry, simply sublime. First a wave, then a vapor, then there’s chemistry and finally flesh, culminating in the subtle fire which consumes us all.

A descent into the realm of logos, a mingling of ideas past and future, when the wonders of the past became the marvels of the future, when mythology is abandoned upon the shores of science, what does the future hold for the souls of humanity?

There will be rumblings from people eager to find fault with this film. It is liable to sit poorly with many folk. For a variety of reasons ranging from: “Why is Idris naked for half the film?” (Because he can be.) “Why is the Queen of Sheba so damn beautiful?“ She was beauty personified. “Why does Solomon have to be a…” Oops. Spoilers.

Those questions and many others will resolve themselves over the history of this film’s existence. Tilda and Idris acquit themselves in this adaptation by George Miller who wrote the screenplay with Augusta Gore, from the 1994 short story “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye” by A. S. Byatt.

Masterful work by all. Elba and Swinton intellectually sizzle as the stories flit between them, a dream within a dream, couched as a fable, masquerading as a cautionary tale, of an impossible connection spanning narratives across time and space.

Visually vivacious, sumptuous storytelling, leaps into logos, questions our ethos, and descends into pathos.

Magnificent. Like Sheba’s hair.

Without a car crash, I could not give this film a 10. Modern movie criticism is questionable, am I right?


Theatrical Synopsis

“Dr Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is an academic – content with life and a creature of reason. While in Istanbul attending a conference, she happens to encounter a Djinn (Idris Elba) who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. This presents two problems. First, she doubts that he is real and second, because she is a scholar of story and mythology, she knows all the cautionary tales of wishes gone wrong. The Djinn pleads his case by telling her fantastical stories of his past. Eventually she is beguiled and makes a wish that surprises them both.”

Thaddeus Howze
Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.