Magazine article New Internationalist

The Pearl Button

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Pearl Button

Article excerpt

The Pearl Button (82 minutes) written and directed by Patricio Guzmán

Patricio Guzmán makes political films. You may have come across his three-part The Battle of Chile, made in the 1970s about the Allende socialist government and the bloody uS-sponsored military coup that ended it. His later films are also 'poetic'. They don't have a straightforward narrative but link people, places, the natural world, even the cosmos, in unexpected and revealing ways.

The Pearl Button opens with shots of a water droplet imprisoned in a quartz crystal. Then we see water in its various states - solid, liquid, vapour - along the near 50,000-mile-long, deeply indented, island-crowded, labyrinthine shore of western Patagonia. In old monochrome photographs we see the region's original people, some of them in body paint depicting the stars and the cosmos, standing naked in snow.

In the 1880s, there were about 8,000 people scattered around the islands, living off the ocean. …

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