4 user 77 critic

El botón de nácar (2015)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 15 October 2015 (Chile)
1:45 | Trailer
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.


Patricio Guzmán


Patricio Guzmán (concept)
11 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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A documentary about two different searches conducted in the Chilean Atacama Desert: one by astronomers looking for answers about the history of the cosmos, and one by women looking for the remains of loved ones killed by Pinochet's regime.

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Credited cast:
Martín Calderón Martín Calderón ... Himself
Cristina Cristina ... Herself
Patricio Guzmán ... Narrator (voice)
Ema Malig Ema Malig ... Herself
Gabriela Paterito Gabriela Paterito ... Herself
Gabriel Salazar Vergara Gabriel Salazar Vergara ... Himself
Raúl Zurita Raúl Zurita ... Himself


The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds all the voices of the earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to living creatures. Water, the longest border in Chile, also holds the secret of two mysterious buttons which were found on its ocean floor. Chile, with its 2,670 miles of coastline and the largest archipelago in the world, presents a supernatural landscape. In it are volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are the voices of the Patagonian Indigenous people, the first English sailors and also those of its political prisoners. Some say that water has memory. This film shows that it also has a voice.

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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France | Spain | Chile | Switzerland



Release Date:

15 October 2015 (Chile) See more »

Also Known As:

Le bouton de nacre See more »

Filming Locations:

Patagonia, Chile See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Tragically Sensational
16 November 2015 | by mir-256-215070See all my reviews

I personally have a certain mistrust for the movies that attempt to affect the audience sentimentally; I do not favor my mind being taken hostage by the director through affection and tears which I think happened to some extent in Pearl Button. However this does not even slightly devalue this great work of art in my opinion.

The movie explores the astonishing world of the old natives and tries to visually find a language for the modern man to understand this lost world at least partially. It seems that a magnificent and unique world has been lost to us due to the arrogance of modernity, science and industrial age.The director tries to show the audience that this forgotten old world was not the world of mindless savages, as many want us to believe for glorifying the progress of capitalism and modernity.

I also love how the movie draws the absurdity of the brutal crimes happened by the hands of oppressors in the face of the vast universe.

Story of the Jemmy Button made a lot of sense to me as an immigrant and an Iranian. Jemmy Button lost his land, his freedom and his identity for some pearl buttons; when he returned to his land he was never able to be at peace with his new identity or his old ways of life again.

For a second I re-thought myself as the Jemmy Button of the modern era.

I felt that I was fooled by the shining pearl buttons which for me was the American Commercial Cinema, the Western false promises of corporate freedom, free market and the colorized advertisement of the American globalized consumerism and its ways of life. It seems that I and many like me are losing their sense of attachment with their ancestors and history. We are adapting this absurd but powerful consumerist identity that has no real value like the pearl buttons, but is very shiny.

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