Gabriela is a Brazilian romance film produced in 1983 by Bruno Barreto. The involve consists of the transformation of a woman from a cook to the mistress and wife of Nacib, a restaurant Owner. The setting of the film is in Brazil in the 1920’s. There are various parts throughout the plot which show how Brazilian society functioned during this time period. Women’s rights and their role in Brazilian society is explored while the film also looks into various political and societal roles of men.
Nacib, one of the main character in the film, hears a group of men discussing a pair of murders which occurred recently. These murders occurred when a man found his wife cheating on him with another man. It was his legal right to kill both his wife and her suitor. This is very unorthodox in comparison with other societies around the world and has its basis on the role of women in Brazilian Society. When Nacib finds Gabriela in bed with another man, he decides not to kill the two but does banish her from his house. This shows that while he truly did care for Gabriella, he also was probably expecting this to happen in the back of his mind. The annuluation of their marriage was enough for Nacib, although it probably wouldn’t be enough for a lot of Brazilian men during that time. He will later forgive Gabriela at the end of the film and allow her to come back into his house as his mistress once again. The film was probably set during the time period it was in order to show that society in Brazil, while maybe slow, was indeed making change and progress.
Women are required to maintain a sort of moral code and whenever they stray from this code it is the rights of men to punish them if necessary. Women in Brazilian society taken great strides towards equality, however in many circumstances they are viewed more as property. This was shown in the movie when Nacib marries Gabrilla. He notices how all the men in town are extremely sexually attracted to her and he decides he must get his claim on her. After marriage he beckons her to wear clothing that will not show off her good looks. He also wants her to become more interested in reading and the arts of society.
Sueann Caulfield in her article discusses the changing role of women in Brazil during the 1920’s that is shown in the film. She mentions during this period that girls of all ages were revolting against society norms. They were doing so by “frolicking shamelessly on public beaches in scandalous attire, middle-class housewives were neglecting their domestic duties, while leaving their families vulnerable to infiltration by degenerates”(Caulfield). These changing roles of women were considered by many males to be threats to society and their way of life.
Overall Gabriela was an entertaining film which helped show how early 20th century Brazil was making changes to its society and in particular women in society. It also showed what life would be like here in the United States if citizens were allowed to take matters into their own hands instead of relying on law enforcement.