The Pearl Button

The Pearl Button

Patricio Guzmán (2015)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Chilean director Patricio Guzmán continues his life-long crusade to expose the crimes of General Augusto Pinochet in this central section of a trilogy that began with Nostalgia for the Light (2010). The sound of water permeates his intense study of Chile's benighted past, which descends on the sinuous Patagonian archipelago to recall the fate of the five indigenous tribes that were systematically wiped out by colonial oppressors. Three survivors of these Fuegian clans (people from islands around Tierra del Fuego) are featured as they strive to preserve their culture. Their struggle is juxtaposed with the plight of a Yaghan teenager, who was taken to Britain in the 19th-century by the captain of the Beagle but failed to re-acclimatise when he returned home with the nickname Jemmy Button. His ostracism is tellingly set against the disposal of the "disappeared" in the ocean by Pinochet's henchmen. Contrasting sea and sand, buttons and stars, Guzmán laments Chile's failure to exploit its natural and human resources in this typically astute, potent and beautifully photographed essay.


Documentary exploring the history of Chilean Patagonia's indigenous peoples. The film examines how these cultures were annihilated through colonial conquest, and examines the parallels between their fate and the brutal actions carried out by the state under the Pinochet regime in more recent years. In Spanish.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Patricio Guzmán
Director Patricio Guzmán

Other Information

Language: Spanish, Kawesquar +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: New Wave Films LtdGuidance: Violence.Released on: 18 Mar 2016