Camila- Love and Rebellion

Maria Luisa Bamberg wished to critique Argentine society both during the rule chaos of the mid 19th century as well as the period leading up to the films release. The main character Camila appears to be very much a representation of Bamberg’s own beliefs regarding the Church, sexual oppression, and patriarchal society. Her film and the true story on which she based Camila provided a perfect foundation for a potent critique of society.

The questions and arguments Bamberg present were meant for Argentina; yet they are common across both Latin America and Western Civilization. The peril of two young lovers rebelling against an oppressive society was by no means novel. The Church, patriarchy, and totalitarian government fulfill their typical roles as villainous institutions. Yet despite these rather unoriginal themes, Camila was a huge success both in Argentina and the United States.

The reasons for Camila’s success in Argentina are very clear. The country was just emerging from the inherent oppressive nature which accompanies military dictatorships. The fact that filming began right after censorship had been lifted obviously allowed the film’s message to have a weight it obviously did not enjoy in the United States. The imagery throughout the film; such as the plethora of portraits of Rosa, red banners, military pageantry, and red pennants on the clothing all invoke an overbearing sense of government intrusion. The hopeless story of these two young lovers being pursued and punished by a ruthless government for what seems a minor crime is obviously offensive to a majority of viewers. However, Bamberg was hoping to criticize much more than the tyranny her country had experienced throughout its existence.

The protagonist is without a doubt a feminist heroine. She constantly challenges the accepted norms by voicing her opinion in a society which demands women be silent. Her pursuit of love with a clergyman is in-itself a plea for human passion over Christian values. For many this was a relevant and effective argument. That being said, it must be asked it Bamberg’s melodramatic narrative lost a measure of potency due to certain traits possessed by Camila.

While the grievances brought by the film are legitimate, the actions of mindset of Camila seemed naive and overly selfish. Her wish to rebel against society was propelled by an irrational and lustful passion, not an academic or rational awareness of her situation. While it seems clear to Bamberg and a modern audience that Camila should not have to curtail her natural rights and emotions for an overbearing society; such a mindset is ignorant of the reality of Western society. Perhaps if Camila had been more insightful of the gravity of her actions, as Ladislao was, the tragedy would have appeared to be that much more a crime against reason.