Camila O’Gorman

The film Camila is set in 1847 and is focused around a young girl named Camila O’Gorman. A well respected socialite, Camila belongs to a family that has close ties with Juan Manuel de Rosas. Rosas is an Argentine dictator in the 19th century running a federalist dictatorship. The film focuses on Camila’s longing for a husband who she respects and can truly love. Although she is engaged to Ignacio she is not really in love with him and soon meets a jesuit priest who she falls for quickly. Even though her friends insist that she stay with Ignacio because of his wealth and social status she openly speaks out against this and rebels against her friends and family’s wishes. Camila makes the initial advances on Ladislao after hearing him speak about the death squads which he denounced. This is speaking openly about a subject Camila felt passionately about in the film. This also is an issue she was looked down upon by her father for speaking openly about. This was due directly to the close ties of Camila’s family and support of Juan Manuel de Rosas.

Although Ladislao tries his best to stay true to the church and not start an affair with Camila, he quickly falls to her advances and they start their affair. He even goes as far as to whip himself in order to punish himself for his feelings, but nothing will stop his persistent longing for her. The underlying storyline focuses around Ladislao’s constant struggle between his love for the church and his love for Camila. Even after they escape the hacienda, and Ladislao gets a new profession posing as a school teacher, his feelings for the priesthood did not fade. Eventually his desire to receive penance for his actions and return to Buenos Aires results in the couples arrest. This is where the absolutely atrocious part of the movie plays out. Camila’s own father asks Rosas personally to pass on the death penalty to his daughter and Ladislao. Even though Ignacio tries to talk Adolfo out of this decision he is too caught up with her slandering his good name to listen. This is scary to step back and realize that with political power and the church hierarchy behind Adolfo O’Gorman, his actions were backed up one hundred percent. His power was nearly limitless because of his political influence and the church’s support. Even after Camila realizes she is pregnant with Ladislao’s child, this does not stop her imminent execution. Despite the law that no pregnant women may be executed in Argentina her case was overlooked and swept under the carpet. This is a very scary thought that such an atrocity could occur and even scarier that the word came from her father.

It makes sense that this film was widely successful, and was even nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. Releasing the film after Argentina had been under a ruthless military dictatorship no doubt added to its mass appeal. Luisa Bemberg brings an element of feminism to the film and questions the patriarchal authority that is commonly practiced throughout Argentina. Patriarchal authority can be practiced and seen openly throughout a few avenues. The main three patriarchal themes that come to mind are in the state, church, and obviously the family perspective. All three of these play a major role in the story line. Ultimately, the family and church corner the state into doing exactly what they want by executing the two lovers. In the end this was an eye opening film that invokes questions of loyalty, family, and right and wrong on a larger scale.