Gabriela- Week 5

          The film, Gabriela is a film focused around the sexual and emotional relationships between men and women in Brazil, and specifically the relationship of Gabriela and Mr. Nacib. The film is very interesting for the way it portrays the act of adultery in Brazilian society. In Brazil the custom was that if a husband discovered his wife’s infidelity, then he had to right to kill both her and her lover. However, in the early 1900s this was banned with a law. Unfortunately, the law did little to prevent these murders as they were happening. “The number of women killed by men in Brazil, they declared, rose form one in every twelve hours in 1919 to one on every half-hour in 1924” (Besse 653). We see this issue present from the start of the film, there is a murder of a women and her lover by the women’s husband, that Mr. Nacib discovers after he buys Gabriela as his slave. Throughout the film the issue of crimes of passion is revealed through information about the case against the husband since it was no longer legal to commit such an act. Through the side characters like these, the issue is brought to light however, the true depiction of crimes of passion in the film is only revealed when Mr. Nacib discovers that Gabriela is having an affair. He storms in the room with a gun, only to rough the two up with minor injuries. After this scene Mr. Nacib says he will have to leave town, because he will be ridiculed for not killing the pair. The fact that Mr. Nacib does not kill his wife and her lover (also his best friend) is extremely interesting and sends a message much different that the information coming from the readings. Based on the statistic, these murders happened in all cases of infidelity. Therefore the choice Mr. Nacib makes to not kill his wife and adulterer seems unusual. There is some foreshadowing present to confuse the audience of his decision further. In the bar that he owns, Mr Nacib says, “a women who deceives her husband is a tramp, a whore”. This statement gives the implication that he would be very unforgiving if ever caught in the situation of his wife having extra-marital activities.
After he makes his decision not to kill them, he turns instead to an annulment, which will somehow prevent him from being publicly ridiculed. With his newfound freedom, he seems to be carefree and enjoys a long night of dancing with multiple women and heavy drinking. During the time he is enjoying his freedom, Gabriela is seen sneaking back into the house, and laying on the bed, and later watching him from the wall behind the house. When finally, Mr. Nacib sees her, he does not react the way you would think. Instead, he just stares at her, and she comes to him. Then the once married couple engage in sexual escapades. This is where the film ends, leaving the audience completely perplexed by the actions of Gabriela and definitely by Mr. Nacib. He strayed from what historical evidence of that time period in Brazil says a husband would do if confronted in his situation. However, his actions show that this was not the only way to respond to adultery. The ending is still ever bizarre, for why would a man take a women back who cheated on him? The film goes against social norms and is a testimony to the fact that society does not act as one, but as individuals who all make different choices.