Camila was an interesting movie that was at the same time a dynamic love story about a strong willed woman who defied conventions and a social commentary about part of Argentina’s recent past. (Hart, Stevens) On the surface it is the story of Camila, who falls in love with the priest Ladislao who is not allowed to take a wife. This does not stop Camila though who makes it her mission to make him her husband. Going against the wishes of her father, the social norms, and the Catholic Church, she and Ladislao run away from their lives to live as lovers, eventually dying together. This is interesting because not only is it a good love story, but it also speaks to the filmmaker’s feminist point of view.
Maria Luisa Bemberg’s feminist views led her to direct Camila from Camila’s perspective, not Ladislao’s. (Stevens, 86) In this way the film takes on an objective outside of its historical view. It becomes a tour de force for feminism that comes off as a very good film in its own right, but also shows a female protagonist who is not static, but dynamic and vibrant. She becomes the focus of the film and allows for feminism to take hold of the movie in a way that is not overt, but rather a subtle point of view much like the “winks” (Hart, 111) described by Hart, though in a different context. In this way the film has other goals than just presenting a historical drama. It instead gives voice to many women who were silenced during the various military ruling parties seen in Argentina. (Stevens, 86) Bemberg was quite successful in inserting a strong willed female protagonist in an industry dominated by male leads and male centered stories.
Historically, Camila speaks on “two levels” described by Hart. (Hart, 111) One, is the story of Camila and the actual events that surrounded her life and elopement with Ladislao. But, perhaps more importantly to her audience, the film spoke to many Argentineans about their history underneath the military control of Juan Manuel de Rosas. (Stevens, 86) It also brings into question how Latin American countries attempted to control the roles of men and women through law enforcement. For instance, as Elizabeth Dore writes, “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.” (Dore, 5) This in turn would lead “local officials to exert pressure on men and women to conform to what the elite regarded as “proper” behavior.” (Dore, 5) This historical fact is seen specifically when Camila speaks out against her father at dinner. When she steps out of her accepted role as a woman and challenges the views of her father, she is told to leave without finishing the meal. This foreshadows a later scene where Ladislao does not serve her communion, in which case she once again is not allowed to finish the “meal” because she has stepped out of her role as a woman and kissed him.
Camila was a great movie that was achieved historical accuracy while paralleling a difficult time in Argintina’s past, but at the same time it allowed a woman who had been repressed all her life to finally get her word out and fulfill her promise to her gender. (Stevens, 86)