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445 Ratings

The Pearl Button

El botón de nácar

Directed by Patricio Guzmán
France, Chile, 2015


The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds all the voices of the earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to living creatures.

Our take

Chilean maestro Patricio Guzmán’s followed Nostalgia for the Light with another beautiful, provocative documentary. This Berlinale award-winner explores the worldly and cosmological connection between his country’s landscape, its conflicted colonial history, and a bloody 20th century.

The Pearl Button Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Conquest of indigenous people is Chile’s original sin and one cannot approach the country’s history without addressing the invasions, wars, and massacres that shaped the Spanish colony and then independent nation. The film takes its time introducing the genocide of the maritime Selk’nam people, and even longer for Pinochet’s regime. By the end of his introductory meditations, however, water, ancient indigenous history, and language seem necessary to fully comprehend these tragedies.
December 22, 2016
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The film is filled with breathtaking footage of the water, ice and islands of Patagonia, but in one remarkable scene Guzman asks an artist to create a giant map, a room-sized paper cutout of Chile, because he has never actually seen his country in one piece: There is no room for a land this long on the classroom wall.
April 08, 2016
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Guzmán finds new methods of excavation and new ways in which to combine found materials, the manifest metaphor—the dialogue within and between in his films—ultimately exemplifying that when correlations are causations, in time’s current and Guzman’s body of work, nothing ever really ends.
April 06, 2016
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