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The Pearl Button

El botón de nácar

Patricio Guzmán’s lyrical, illuminating follow-up to Nostalgia for the Light explores the fateful role played by water in Chile’s tragic history.

The Pearl Button

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Director Patricio Guzmán
Producer Renate Sachse
Screenwriter Patricio Guzmán
France-Chile-Spain 2015
82 mins
UK distribution New Wave Films

Whereas in Nostalgia for the Light Patricio Guzmán used the stars and the sands of the Atacama Desert as both starting point and leitmotif for his illuminating meditation on Chilean history, his likewise lyrical new film – clearly a sequel yet wholly comprehensible in itself – begins with water. Exploring the country’s long indented coastline – with Katell Djian’s gliding camera making the most of massive mountains, volcanoes and glaciers – Guzmán investigates the fate of Patagonia’s indigenous tribes: nomadic boatpeople who are now, thanks in no small degree to the arrival of European colonisers, extinct save for a few survivors. (The title alludes in part to one ‘Jeremy Button’, who in the 1830s was brought, disastrously, to Britain to be ‘civilised’.) Like its predecessor, the film proceeds to consider more recent disappearances – of those tortured, killed and dumped in the ocean by Pinochet’s regime. Curiosity, compassion and righteous disgust meet to powerful effect.

Geoff Andrew

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