The Pearl Button
Chilean cinema has been very well represented at Berlinale 2015. Though the equally powerful El Club is likely to take most of the limelight, it would be a terrible shame to let it detract from Patricio Guzmán’s latest reflection on his homeland.
The Pearl Button is a follow-up to his 2010 documentary Nostalgia for Light, and presents the country’s 78,000 km of ocean coastline with the same artistry that his 2010 offering did with Chile’s desserts. Guzmán has proven himself to be the most able of documentarians, one who is happy to mesh fact with metaphor in order to bring forth an important retrospective glance at his nation’s heritage.
Water, the source of all life, for Guzmán seems to carry with it a mystifying and paradoxical association with death; he shows that the colonialists who wreaked havoc among the native peoples arrived via the ocean, and the victims of the 1973 coup d’état were infamously tied to pieces of railway iron before being thrown into it from helicopters, often still breathing.
The pairing of the archipelago’s natives on the one hand with the Pinochet regime on the other appears on the surface slightly contrived, though Guzmán does well to artfully draw the two together. Since the conception of the Chilean Republic nearly two centuries ago, massacre and death have been all too present among its people. By observing two segments of Chilean history that are so removed from one another, the ubiquitous nature of these themes in the country’s past hits home.
His films, which are not always received in the intellectual spirit they deserve by his compatriots, remain important milestones in the revisionist wave of historical analysis that is only now taking hold following Pinochet. In the context of Latin America, Chile looks in especially good nick, on the surface at least. Guzmán makes a beautiful b-line for your thoughts and your mind in what is another chapter in the catalogue of perhaps Chile’s most important filmmaker.
The Pearl Button does not yet have a UK release date.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2015 visit here.