Friday, October 16, 2015

El botón de nácar (Patricio Guzmán, 2015)

Director: Patricio Guzmán; France/Chile/Spain, 2015
Reviewed by Kiomars Vejdani

Patricio Guzmán in his new film uses the same format as Nostalgia for the Light, starting with exploration of nature by science and ending up with investigation of crimes committed by the dictatorial regime of Pinochet in Chile. In the previous film he used astronomy to explore stars in the universe and archaeology to find about early history of mankind in the sands of Atacama desert. But in his new film the object of his scientific exploration is water. It is argued that water is not only the source of life and its creation, but also the agent of its transfer between planets. The existence of water (and hence life) on other planets has been explored by scientific methods. On planet earth people at ancient times used water to move to new areas, settle and build their homes. They enjoyed a peaceful and happy life until Europeans arrived and a chain of exploitation and atrocity in countries like Chile began with criminal acts of previous dictatorial regime as its last link. Throughout the film Guzmán's running commentary is delivered in measured pace to accompany his poetic images. Presentation of atrocities in this film is not as elaborate as in Nostalgia for the Light, nevertheless it is equally powerful, specially in the section about throwing bodies attached to pieces of heavy metal from the aeroplane into the ocean to conceal evidences of their crimes. We see one of these pieces of metal brought back from the bottom of the sea by the divers. The human body is completely dissolved by the salt water of the ocean over the years. The only thing left of it is a pearl button implanted into the metal. The whole history of criminal acts of dictatorial regime is encapsulated in this tiny button.

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