Watching Camila it is difficult to keep a historical perspective on the film and not get sucked into its sappy and melodramatic love story. The love story does of course have meaning in itself, but the focus of this blog will be on the governmental suppression of Argentinean people.
To me there were two clear distinctions of suppression in the film that were dependent on location. When Camila and Ladislao were first falling in love they were in the Church and O’Gorman’s farm. These locations were under strict supervision of not only the O’Gorman family, but of the Church and Rosas. The O’Gorman family were considered very wealthy elites and had to uphold their reputation. Thus, Camila did not have much room to express her free spirit and ideal vision of love and marriage. Women did not have their own say in the government. She wanted to actually fall in love with someone and live happily while her strict father wanted her to marry a wealthy man now to live in stability. Elizabeth Dore says in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back that “the state—the organized power of the ruling classes—normalizes particular social relations and identities, and destroys others.” In light of Camila’s suppression to do as she pleases, her father wanted to have his family have a respectable name and stay in elite status. Ladislao, being a priest, was forbidden to have any relations with anyone other than God. He of course was one of the last people Camila should have had a relation with.
When Camila and Ladislao eloped and ran away together to Goya City, their suppression and disgrace were lifted. Of course no one in that small town knew of their true identity but because there were no elites living in the poor town, it seemed that they could all live more freely. Camila and Ladislao opened the city’s first school and for that all the town people were thankful. Even as the entire community was worshipping in a march before Easter, Camila and Ladislao were not forced to join as they would have been back home. Freedom was granted.
In the jail (Santos Lugares) after their discovery, not much was actually told of how anyone knows the real life story of what this film is based off of. The article by Donald F. Stevens about the film reveals more background information. He said that the story of Camila and Ladislao was actually told by Camila to a guard. After telling her story, “he recommended that, while maintaining this discreet silence, Camila rely on the reputation of her sex for weakness and beg Rosas for elemency.” Once again it is seen that Camila should act more foolishly than she actually is to stay alive.
The story of elite’s and women’s suppression is told in Camila on the wings of a love story. A love story that has had much controversy in Argentinean history due to the simple maintenance of Rosa’s reputation.