Another film that explores the contradictions and complexity in a Latin American society that was run by the “patriarchal power in the family, the state, and the church” (Stevens). Camila is a film based on a true story, which we discussed at the beginning of the semester as being a faulty claim. Though it is easy to get wrapped into a love story that consists of a forbidden, sacrilegious scandal that ends in death by the government, this movie represents Argentinean ideals about gender in the 19th century under the rule of dictator, Juan Manuel de Rosas. Bemberg, self-acclaimed feminist director of Camila wanted to call into question the role of women in the double trifecta.
This first trifecta is a passionate desire for Ladisloa, the new priest, Camila, and Jesus Christ. This relationship is built on sexual desire discovered too late for Ladisloa—seeing as he is “married” to Jesus. Camila convinces Ladisloa to run away with her to escape both the Church and her father. They are committing a crime in the church and government laws, and they continue to have problems in their escape under false names. In seeking religion he is coming face to face with the sin of choosing a sexual partner rather than a life filled with God’s love. This internal crisis is described in the movie in the priest explaining to Ladisloa that God’s love is limitless while human love is attainable and temporarily satisfying.
The second trifecta is the patriarchal society consisting of ties within the Church, State, and home. Opposition regarding individual decisions came from all three realms making escape or any type of freedom nearly impossible. This theme is slightly flawed by Bemberg because we only see in the film that Camila has one brother, Eduardo, when she has two other brothers as well. Not knowing that during the film, one would question why in a patriarchal society that the sole heir to the O’Gorman estate would be a priest—clearly ending the family name. I think another brother should have been incorporated to let the importance of the male in the Argentinean family unit be known. Also, Steven explains that Camila’s father would have done more to uphold the reputation of his daughter, because it reflected on the entirety of his family. Governor Rosas was the one that led the O’Gorman family reputation to the ground because he mentioned both Camila and Ladisloa’s full names and descriptions when Adolfo, the father, wished for secrecy.
The most dangerous part of this case was Rosas and his dictatorial authority. He reviewed cases himself and determine the means for punishment. There was no questioning him, he was every branch of the government. Camila’s punishment not only caused more hatred from the Argentinean, but it also established his unrelenting power that scared his people. It was an example for all to see.