Delving into the nearly-religious significance of water, this profound rumination on memory and loss bridges the gap between its mystical origins, Pinochet's coup d'état, and the secret of a... Read allDelving into the nearly-religious significance of water, this profound rumination on memory and loss bridges the gap between its mystical origins, Pinochet's coup d'état, and the secret of a mother-of-pearl button at the bottom of the sea.Delving into the nearly-religious significance of water, this profound rumination on memory and loss bridges the gap between its mystical origins, Pinochet's coup d'état, and the secret of a mother-of-pearl button at the bottom of the sea.
The film comes in at a fast moving eight-two minutes. It is shot in color with minimal color correction that deftly enhances the strong cinematography provided by Katell Djian. Unsurprisingly, the look and feel of the shooting is similar to Nostalgia for the Light, as Djian worked both. Yet, there is more to both films than gorgeous night sky spectacles and rich, ripe waterways or vast, barren deserts. Both films call attention to the brutality of the Pinochet regime. Nostalgia for the Light, provides a beautiful segway into the search for disappeared bodies much like the Chilean government searches the sky for disappeared stars. In "The Pearl Button," Guzman connects the cosmos and the essence of life to water calling to mind that humans ultimately evolved from aquatic life forms. And, the aquatic life forms sprang forth from a cosmic impulse detonated from a massive energetic collision resulting in the first precursor of life, water, entering into the planetary environment. Water is the essence of life. And it remembers.
However, as colonialism began to encroach, a new way of life emerged that was far different that the life the cosmos had revealed. Here Guzman indulges himself in a little Chilean lore of the legend of Jemmy Button. Jemmy Button was the representation of an ordinary indigenous Chilean. He was taken under the protection of a British naval officer in exchange for a fancy pearl button. The officer took Jemmy back to Britain and learned Jemmy the ways of a British gentlemen. Jemmy attended the finest school and was dressed accordingly and even given a respectable haircut. After a year Jemmy was returned to his family and community. He never fit in again and lived the rest of his days as an outsider.
Much can be made of the plight of Jemmy Button as Guzman uncovers and delivers another horrifying example of Pinochet's brutal attack on dissidents. Unnervingly and in a manner akin to a medical coroner, a recreation of how a body, not necessarily a corpse, would be disposed of seemingly without a trace. True to most crimes, however, an error occurred in the process and a body washed a shore eventually revealing another episodic disappearance of dissidents. Most estimates agree that somewhere between 12,000 to 14,000 bodies were disposed into these once life giving waters. Nevertheless, Guzman finds optimism and hope for the future. During reclamation efforts, one of the instruments used to hasten the drowning and to keep the body submerged, was recovered without the typical barnacles attached. It was recovered with a pearl button attached.
Guzman, once again, proves himself a gifted, master storyteller with both earthly and cosmic sensibilities. Highly recommended.
- Nov 30, 2015