Why George Miller Thinks His Latest Film Is The Exact Opposite Of Mad Max: Fury Road


George Miller is one of those directors who constantly reinvents himself with each movie. In no way is the man conventional. And while this can put him at odds with other filmmakers (see what happened when he nearly directed Contact), it tends to result in pure masterpieces. There’s no doubt that despite the film constantly being shut down, Mad Max: Fury Road is easily one of the best action films ever made.

But his latest film, Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba’s Three Thousand Years of Longing is not that. In fact, it’s anything but.


The movie, which is based on A.S. Byatt’s “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye”, is a strange and wonderful romance. It’s an old-fashioned story that weaves multiple connected stories into one odd fantasy film. And for this reason and so much more, George has described it as the “anti-Mad Max”.

Why Three Thousand Years Of Longing Is Different From Mad Max: Fury Road

In an interview with Vulture, George Miller went into detail about Three Thousand Years of Longing and why it’s purposefully so different from the post-apocalyptic Mad Max: Fury Road.

For those who don’t know, Three Thousand Years of Longing is about a narratologist who falls for a djinn (basically a genie) who she finds in a glass bottle. He then precedes to tell her a series of stories about his life.

“It’s quite the antithesis of Fury Road, for a whole lot of reasons, not only the subject matter but as you might have seen me say, [Fury Road] happened basically over three days and two nights. This one happens over 3,000 years,” George Miller explained to Vulture.

On top of this, Mad Max takes place almost entirely outside while this is all inside. Then, there are the words…

“There are very few words spoken in Fury Road. This is a lot of words, and so on,” George Miller said before explaining why he wanted to make such a different movie.

Related: Why WB Didn’t Want Charlize Theron To Play Furiosa In ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

“I don’t make many films. So, if you’re going to do it, gee, the worst thing would be to make the same thing all the time. That applies to each individual, and I think that applies to us as audiences. We’re looking for something new. There’s always a cultural evolution, and it’s moving very quickly. Much more quickly than any of us can really grasp, in every way. So there has to be something fresh in you.”

Why Three Thousand Years Of Longing Took So Long To Get Made

Three Thousand Years of Longing seems to be an abt description of the laborious process of getting the movie made.

“We acquired the rights to the A.S. Byatt novella in the late ’90s, I think, ’98, ’99. It took us a while to work on the screenplay, as I have several projects that I go back to. The understanding was that we would make it when it was ready to make,” George Miller said of the process.

“As you evolve the screenplay, it stays in your mind. It’s rather Darwinian. It’s survival of the fittest. Those projects that seem to have more resonance with you individually are the ones that tend to get made. And this one wouldn’t go away.”

But not all of the delays had to do with the development of the screenplay. Aside from an assortment of scheduling conflicts, George also had a lack of technology to deal with. In short, he had to wait until technology could catch up with his vision of the story in order to tell it properly.

Related: Why Charlize Theron Asked Protection From Tom Hardy While Filming ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Once that finally happened, they were all set to shoot in Turkey… then COVID hit.

“The film was delayed eight months, and we found that travel was impossible. [If I had tried to make the film years ago] I would have been much more stressed had we had COVID and I learned that we couldn’t shoot in Istanbul. Nowadays, you can go anywhere digitally, as it were. We had to make Istanbul and London in Sydney.”

How George Miller Made Three Thousand Years Of Longing And Furiosa Simultaneously

While George Miller has been promoting Three Thousand Years Of Longing, he’s been busy shooting the Mad Max: Fury Road prequel, Furiosa. And while he was editing Three Thousand Years Of Longing, he was busy in prep for Furiosa.

There’s no doubt that this was grueling. Not just because of the long hours, but also the switch in tone.

“I was worried that the timing of the two films were more or less one on top of the other. But it’s interesting. I’ve often talked to directors who like to do two films at the same time — in particular, the likes of Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott. As you notice, Steven always seems to have two films on the go. And they say that one is a holiday from the other. It’s kind of a palate cleanser from one film. Because your mind is suddenly on something else, you come back rather refreshed each time,” George said to Vulture.

Related: How ‘Furiosa’ Star Anya Taylor-Joy Made Her First Million

“It makes a lot of sense to me. One of the most important functions of the director is to keep a kind of dispassionate neutrality to what you’re seeing as the pieces of the film are put together. If you are too euphoric all the time, or if you’re too down, or you’re too immersed, or you’re too particular, or too obsessive about something, you’re not reading what, ultimately, you hope the audience might read.”