Le bouton de nacre / The Pearl Button

The Pearl Button marks another major achievement in the career of Patricio
Guzman, the Paris-based Chilean filmmaker first recognized for epochal
documentaries such as The Battle of Chile (1975-79) and now acclaimed as
a master of essay films such as Nostalgia of the Light (2010). Starting with
the heartbreaking tale of the extermination of Patagonia’s native water
nomads, Guzman traces the history of systemized murder in his country up
to and including the ruthless dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet through a pearl
button paid by an English expedition in 1830 to buy Patagonian native Jemmy
Button and bring him back to England—or in Guzman’s words “to travel from
the Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution.” While the story told by The Pearl
is both a personal and a national one, the film’s digressive, meditative
nature leaves no doubt as to its universal reach. Parallels to the history of
the United States are only too easy to draw, but ultimately Guzman’s focus
is on human nature beyond national boundaries—and even global ones,
as he turns to the vast quantities of water vapor stored in quasars for hope
of a fresh start for humanity far from this literally scorched earth. Weaving
together archival photos of Patagonians, interviews with their descendants
and sympathetic scholars, and breathtaking footage of natural wonders on
earth and in space, Guzman has created a film of unusual, cruel beauty, as
accessible as it is mind-boggling.

Patricio Guzmán

Patricio Guzmán

French, Kawésqar
105 min.
France, Chile, Spain, 2014
Blu-Ray, DCP

Kino Lorber

From $349 for Blu-ray and DVD
From $400 for DCP
depending on the size of the venue