The film, Camila follows the story of an Argentina upper class girl named Camila who subsequently falls in love with the new priest. The story takes place in the tumultuous time in Argentinean history when Juan Manuel de Rosas was the leader of the country as a federalist dictator from 1829-1852. The film’s romantic element is the predominant element of the film, while the historic events that were taking place and the patriarchal nature of Argentinian society provides context for how live was in Argentina during this time period.
There are elements of power displayed throughout the film coming from the family, church, and the state. The climax of the story unfolds when these three elements meet at a cross section to decide the fate of these transgressors. The elements of government at state go deeper than would be expected because of the political activity occurring in Argentina during the time. The federalist dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas was against any Unitarian activity in the country, and was very much trying to keep the people loyal to him. This is displayed throughout the film by the red ribbons the characters wear displaying their obedience to Juan Manuel de Rosas. “Rosas restored the red emblem as a ‘sign of fidelity to the cause and order, tranquility and well-being among the people of this land under the federal system, as a proof and public acknowledgement of the triumph of this sacred cause in the whole republic and a mark of confraternity between Argentines” (Stevens 97). This historic fact is incorporated in the film to show the tension in society and the ways in which this dictator was attempting to control his people.
Along with the historical elements incorporated into this film, we see the patriarchal system within the family at play. Camila’s father is very much the head of the household, and it is evident that his authority is supreme. Camila is somewhat of a free spirit, who wants to speak her mind about her opinions. However, during a scene where the family is eating, Camila makes a comment about Rosas, that her father does not like. Her mother quickly tells her to keep quiet and listen. This comment is an example of the role women were to have in society. In another scene her father says there are only two choices for her: to become a nun or get married. The attitude her father has towards women in society combined with the way he treats the women in his family is an evident display of this patriarchal element in Argentinean society during this time.
Along with this patriarchal element in society, there is also the element surrounding the climax of the film. When Camila and Ladislao run away, it doesn’t take too long for them to be discovered. Once they are taken into custody, the dilemma surrounds the moral implications of their actions. “During the long nineteenth century, Latin American states moved on a number of fronts to normalize elite, predominantly male, ideals of femininity and masculinity, especially in areas of health, education, employment, and charity-social work. This normalization provided the opportunity for nation, regional, and local officials to exert pressure on men and women to conform to what the elite regarded as ‘proper’ behavior” (Dore 5). From this standard, the actions taken by Ladislao and Camila were not “proper behavior”, and therefore their actions were punished with the upmost severity. The were meant to warn others of this immoral behavior and encourage submission to the patriarchal structure of Argentinean society.