The film Camila, based on a true story, conveyed both historically accurate and intriguing events of an Argentinean dictatorship. Camila expressed an ideology of a corrupt regime that vied for total control of all its citizens. The poor victims who defied its laws were made examples of to strike fear into the entire nation. Camila and Father Ladislao were two such citizens who felt the wrath of the law because of their clandestine affaire.
In Stephen Hart’s article, he talks of the Argentinean dictatorship of Juan Manuel de Rosas and his presence throughout the film. In Camila, Rosas never appears but always seems to be watching the characters and has a powerful influence over their actions. He is manifested in the film by the red ribbons every citizen is required to wear. This ever-present symbol reminds them of the strict conduct they are required to follow. Another way Rosas is developed is by the killing of Mariano, a book seller. Previously in the film, Camila buys an outlawed book from him, defying Rosas’ laws. This event accurately depicts the atrocities preformed under Rosas’ regime. Mariano’s death seems to also prophesize the two lover’s outcome. It shows the strict punishment a citizen would receive for selling banned books, from this the audience can assume the punishment for Camila’s and Father Ladislao’s crime would be the same, if not worse.
According to Elizabeth Dore, Latin America went through a convoluted series of events concerning patriarchal authority. However, Camila seemed to represent most the king hierarchy model. This is where the father acted like a king over his household, rewarding his family like citizens when they pleased him and punishing them when they acted against him. In the movie, Camila’s father, Adolfo O’Gorman, seems to react to Camila’s disobedience like a king reacting to a rebellious citizen rather than a father angry at his daughter. In the movie Adolfo writes Rosas stating that the execution of his daughter and Father Ladislao is the only appropriate punishment to their crime. In contrast, Donald Stevens writes that though Camila’s father described his daughter’s sins as “the most atrocious act ever heard of in this country”, he did in fact try to save his daughter. However, Rosas thought the true crime of the lovers was their defiance towards him. He believed his word was law and accepted nothing but complete deference and harshly punished the insubordinate. The film used the portrayal of Adolfo and Rosas as distant and cold to expose patriarchs as monstrous institutions.
Also, according to Dore, secular law, more so than religious-based law, restricted women’s rights. In the movie, the government overlooked the moral sin of killing a pregnant woman. If the government was truly founded in religious doctrine, Camila would, in all probability, not have been executed. Though the regime wanted to make examples out of both Camila and Father Ladislao, it was surprising that a Catholic nation would execute a pregnant woman, even if it was an overall secular rule that used the church as a form of power and not an institution it answered to. Also, the scene when the church hierarchy demanded the blood of Camila while she was still pregnant was unrealistic. The Catholic Church considered unborn life to be a pure gift from God. To kill the baby for the mother’s crime was unlikely. If anything, they would have waited to kill the Camila after the baby was born, despite the urging of Camila’s father and political allies.