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The Pearl Button

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The Pearl Button 12 rating

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

Documentary 2015 82 mins

Director: Patricio Guzmán


Patricio Guzmán’s illuminating follow-up to Nostalgia for the Light is another lyrical exposé of the dark secrets in Chile’s tragic history. Whereas in the prior film 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 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.