Known for his many documentaries on contemporary history of Chile, Patricio Guzmán again with a new masterpiece. Five years after the poetic Nostalgia for the Light , where the Chilean filmmaker spent the Atacama Desert and its stars screened, The pearl button (Spanish El Botón of nácar ) explores the mysteries of the Pacific Ocean, this blue gold so dear to the natives of Patagonia. Here the water has replaced sand and used as breadcrumbs in Guzmán’s story. At 74, the director signs a film chronicle of the largest archipelago in the world (74 000 km of coastline). Many ethnic groups live in this secular country, including the people and Yagán Kawésqar, from which the movie characters, the last representatives of a civilization about to faint.
Between odyssey more thousand kilometers by canoe and epic crossing of Cape Horn, everyone remembers, sometimes in his language, his childhood memories. They lived in harmony with nature and the cosmos, adapting to the polar cold and the undulating geography fjords, without compass nor god nor master. So much so that the word “police” does not exist. These tribes stuck to what was willing to offer the sea until the arrival of gold prospectors, and with them, the eclipse of a world: theirs. Through their words, it is the voice of their ancestors that resonates.
As a memorial labyrinth of wild islands, mountains and glaciers, Guzmán brings back the ghosts of centuries of impunity. Film after film, this expatriate (Cuba, Spain, then in France) dissects the Chilean revolution to the core to analyze the complexity and probe the smallest stigma. His work looks less like a series of reports that a piecemeal investigation into the past of a nation with a short memory. Haunted by the dictatorship – and the coup in 1973 – Pinochet, Guzman continues to return, as if to assure that this shameful chapter of history does not sink into oblivion forever.
In this introspection attests: “It’s like I was trapped in amber, as these insects from ancient frozen forever in a drop.” Water is cleverly linking the victims of colonization and those of an authoritarian regime. In both cases, Guzmán shines the spotlight on the perpetrators as well as on the martyrs. When showcases the “death flights”, this appalling practice of the dirty war of disposing of opponents to the sea attached to a rail railway from military aircraft, the director brilliantly leads the viewer awareness. The story of the discovery, in 1976, the lifeless body of Marta Ugarte – teacher and tortured communist militant – spat out by the waves on a deserted beach freezes the blood. Not to mention the description of his face: “She looks at you, she is alive.” As the eternal witness of the crimes perpetrated by the Chilean armed forces and the sea which has not kept the secret. And the ocean became cemetery.
At once ode to water, maritime chant for the dead and humble life lesson, the tale of Guzmán needs to its aesthetic captivating portraits in black and white Kawésqar survivors that Paz Errázuriz photographer immortalized in the 1990s and scrolling slideshow way as he tells the story. Not to mention the mesmerizing quartz block containing an old straw three thousand years in which the first images open. Instead of blurring the message, the rare esoteric passages revive the intrigue. In Berlin, the screenplay won last February the Silver Bear. “A country without documentary films is like a family without a photo album,” said the person. The seventh Chilean art can rest easy
Watch the trailer of the film.