The film Camila from 1984 is an interesting film of love, religion, and death that is important in learning about a small piece of Argentinian history. The theatrical story is about Camila and a priest named Ladislao, who over time fall in love and run away together. They are eventually found and imprisoned for their actions against the Church, and the movie ends with them being killed by firing squad.
Interestingly enough, Camila is a watered-down version of the real drama in the discovery of Camila and Uladislao’s affair. When it was released, the film made more in Argentina than E.T., which was released the same year. Up until that time, the story of Camila and Uladislao’s love affair was forbidden for filming because of the bad image it gave the Catholic Church. However, the drama was too great of a story, and it was a must see movie for the Argentinians.
The relationship between Camila and Ladislao ends up breaking Ladislao’s bond to the Church, and throughout the movie the audience sees how this slowly affects him. Camila continues to draw him back through seduction. When the two are killed at the end, Ladislao is a shell of a man and Camila wants to live and wants her unborn child to live as well.
The period in which the real Camila and Ladislao eloped fell under the rule of Juan Manuel de Rosas, which was from 1829 to 1852 in Argentina. The film was made as a criticism to his rule. Rosas had a powerful rule over the Catholic Church in Argentina. Ladislao was thought to have no other choice but to become a priest for the Church, and therefore was more susceptible to falling from the strict guidelines of being a priest.
The harshness of Camila’s death – and her unborn baby’s death – is less of a shock when one considers the social norms of Argentina during the 19th century. Argentina at the time had a strict hierarchical order, one that drastically segregated people of status, genders, and race. Men controlled the household, and women had little rights. Thus Camila’s actions, once found out, were dealt with harshly by the government. Laws set up in many Latin American countries, Argentina included, were very lenient toward adultery committed by men, but women’s infidelity was punished as a capital offence.
Altogether, Camila is an excellent film for thinking on many levels and learning about a period of history in Latin America. Simplistically, it is a tragic love story that ends with both lovers being killed – Camila with an unborn child. Ladislao’s religious commitment is tested and eventually broken for an earthly commitment. Social norms are broken as Camila and Ladislao elope to another Argentine town and he leaves his original job. And finally, an important history lesson is taught about the period of Latin American and Argentinian culture and structure of society – namely that women were not looked at whatsoever as equals to me. While it has discrepancies from the real affair between Camila and Ladislao, the film Camila is great for learning about Argentinian history during the 19th century.