Camila-Subliminal Latin America
Latin America duplicates the problems in Europe on a larger scale even after colonialism. They carry with them the problems of Europe and in many ways model themselves in the image of Europe. The patriarchal, familial, and governmental structural all remained the same. A ruler by the name of Juan Manuel de Rosas ruled very strongly with an iron fist. This movie comes out as a satire against the oppression that he forced on these people. Maria Luisa Bemberg is able to do this without even showing him, Stevens states “The governor remains in the shadows of the film, behind the omnipresent portraits, the universal red ribbons, and the pervasive atmosphere of red ribbons.” All of these techniques are used through the film to convey his presence in their lives. It also describes how in a volatile environment two young people who did not believe in the society would use romance to combat the governmental structure.
The character of Father Ludislao is portrayed in the movie as pure. But has Hurt says Bemberg was also a Roman Catholic so the perspective of wanting to portray a priest as spotless is very likely. He did not have strong emotions for Camila but was trying to deal with an unprecedented amount of lust in his heart.
Camila is the modern woman, the anti-colonialist woman. She goes against all of the social structures that are part of post-colonialism. By doing this she herself is a physical satire of this governmental structure. Hart discusses how Bemberg had Camilla seduce the priest not the other way around. This is a strong reversal of the social order itself in that usually a man was supposed to approach a woman. But, for her to first even put her emotions out there and then second lay her heart out to him is very significant.
The scene where she describes her erotic dream is in itself very significant to the satire that the movie is portraying and the actual movie itself. During this time it was not proper for women to talk about having any kind of sexual emotions at all especially for pleasure. Sex, in the public atmosphere was for reproduction only. Women’s discussion of this was forbidden. So for Camilla to open up about these erotic feelings in a public atmosphere was important for furthering the story line but also for showing how Camilla was different than other women. She felt she had full control of her body and that she deserved to have as much sexual pleasure from that as she saw fit. This was a very strong difference from what society felt.
Camilla also breaks the social norm through her relationship with her grandmother and the slaves. The grandmother at the beginning of the movie is as actually an ironic foreshadowing of the sexual misconduct that Camila herself will be involved in. Camilla becomes very close to the Grandmother and there is an illusion that Camilla learns to crave the love and passion that her Grandmother has experienced. She also had a very significant relationship with the slave woman. She is very close to her. This would have gone against the master slave relationship that was typical at the time.
One thing that Bemberg is very good at is comparing the love that Camila holds and Ladislao’s. Camila’s is a very strong womanly passion. She goes after him very strongly. She has strong emotions towards him. Ladislao’s does not have emotions just carnal passion it is shown through the sexual encounters between them that he has an erotic passion for her and that is it. His emotions in his heart will always belong to God.
An irony in the story is when Camila’s brother tells Adolfo that she has run away with the priest it is at the same time as they are slaughtering a cow in a very gruesome way. This is done on purpose to be an analogy with the lack of caring that the father has. He is portrayed as only being mad because this has one ruined his reputation and now soiled his daughter’s forever.
The importance of the loss of Camila as a marriage partner is also important to the story. It is not completely asserted in the movie but many wealthy families could gain political and social connections from a daughter marrying into another family. By Camila breaking the social and patriarchal structure she has destroyed this chance for her family. She has also destroyed it for her sisters because no one will want to marry them with a soiled sister.
“European norms defined what was “civilized,” “stylish,” and ultimately, “decent” in the eyes of postcolonial Latin Americans. Those at the top of the social hierarchy and most in touch with Europe obviously held the winning cards in this parlor game.”
Till next week,