Cinergía Movie File:


Directed by Maria Luisa Bemberg, 1985


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Created by: Lana Torres, Chris Campos, Laura Snow, Adriana Barrera

Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:

Section 1: Pre-screening

Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism

    Section 3: Media analysis

Section 1: Pre-screening

  Note: Given the transitory nature of internet resources we suggest conducting a search to help answer the pre-screening questions.  Only a few links are included below.

  Background Links

History of Argentina

In English. Some topics include the History of Argentina, Argentina in the 19th century, famous people, important eras, movies and art.  This site gives good general background on Argentina.  The reader gets a better understanding of the political turmoil that went on since the beginning of Argentina, which lays out the foundation of Rosas rocky regime.

Juan Manuel de Rosas  

In Spanish.  This site takes the reader inside of Juan Manuel de Rosas early life and his political career until his death.  It also tells us of his cruel dictatorship.  The reader can get a better understanding of what prompted Rosas to become involved in politics and what his years as dictator were like.

   Pre-screening Questions

1.       What events were occurring in Argentina during Camila’s life? 

2.       Can you identify some famous or popular melodramas of the 19th century?  Which one was the most famous during this time?

3.       Can you identify three Romantic writers from Latin America?

4.       What sets Camila apart from Argentine stories?

5.       How did the Rosas government have an impact on the lives of Camila and Ladislao?

6.       Maria Luisa Bemberg has created many films in her life.  What were the motives for bringing this story to the screen?

7.       What might this link, The story between Camila and Ladislao, offer that the film might not?

8.       Why did the typical lifestyle, norms and values of the people in the 19th century did not permit Camila and Ladislao’s love to exist?

9.       Where did Camila and her family originate?

10.     Are films useful for teaching history?  How does the article on Camila in Stevens’s book aid in understanding the film?

Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism  

 Comprehension Questions

1.       Who are the main characters of the film?

2.       What is the setting of the film?

3.       What are the themes of the film?

4.       How is Adolfo O’Gorman portrayed, especially with regard to his relationship with Camila?

5.       What is the role of “La Perichona”, Camila’s grandmother? Why is she included in the film?

6.       What effect does the patriarchal system of the society have on Ladislao and Camila’s brother, Eduardo? On Camila?

7.       What is the significance of the bookseller and his death?

8.       What is the significance of Camila and Ladislao’s decision to run away together?

9.       How does Ladislao feel about their decision, the night that Camila awakes to find him praying outside? What effect do his feelings have on her?  

10.    In what way is the Church responsible for keeping Ladislao and Camila apart? In locating them?

11.    How is the relationship between Camila and the jailer portrayed?

12.    What role does Juan Manuel de Rosas have in the fates of Ladislao and Camila? Why is the harsh punishment chosen for them as harsh as it is?

13.    What is Camila’s condition at the time of her death? Why is this significant?

14.    What occurs in the last scene in which we see Camila and Ladislao? How is the interaction between them in that scene important?

15.    What does that scene contribute to the film?

Historical Accuracy 

1.       “Camila was the fifth of their six children, named (in order) Carlos, Carmen, Enrique, Clara, Camila, and Eduardo.  The older sons, Carlos and Enrique, do not appear and are never mentioned in Bemberg’s film. The brothers’ absence may be sensed by historians who will wonder why an elite family would apparently send its only male heir, Eduardo, into the priesthood” (Stevens, 89).

2.       “Although Bemberg portrays Ladislao as a Jesuit, we know that he was certainly not a member of that order. . . He [Rosas] decreed their [the Jesuits] expulsion from the Province of Buenos Aires in 1843 (four years before Ladislao arrived in the city) and arranged with the governors of other provinces to expel them from all Argentine territory in the following years” (Stevens, 90-91).

3.       “All of the documentation makes it clear that they [Camila and Ladislao] fled at night and on horseback. Bemberg makes one of her few minor missteps when she has the pair flee in the middle of the afternoon siesta in a coach” (Stevens, 91).

4.       “Bemberg portrays him [Adolfo O’Gorman] as what one reviewer called the original ‘Pampas ass’. . . When [his letter to Rosas is] read carefully, though, a different Adolfo O’Gorman emerges from between the lines, a more appropriate paterfamilias who was less menacing and more sympathetic to Camila” (Stevens, 92-93).

5.       “It is also possible that the news spread from the family’s servants. Bemberg portrays the household staff as stereotypically ignorant but affectionate and loyal flunkies. In contrast, the historian John Lynch reports that Rosas was popular among the large population of former slaves and that the governor encouraged them to spy on their masters for him” (Stevens, 93-94).

Work Cited

Stevens, Donald F. “Passion and Patriarchy in Nineteenth-Century Argentina.” Based on a True Story. Ed. Donald F. Stevens. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc. 1997. pp. 85-102.

Historical accuracy questions

1.       How does the film increase the audience’s understanding of this period in Argentine history?

2.       What aspects of the history of this period, relevant to its content, were not shown in the film?

3.       How accurately does the film portray the key historical figures depicted, such as Juan Manuel de Rosas, Camila O’Gorman, Ladislao Gutiérrez, and Adolfo O’Gorman?

4.       What are the possible motivations of the director, María Luisa Bemberg, for portraying these figures as they appear in the film?

5.       How would you characterize Bemberg’s point of view regarding the events shown in the film?

6.       What connection is there between the film’s portrayal of these historical events and the director’s point of view concerning them?

7.       What aspects of the film might have changed if the Bemberg’s view of the events had been different?

8.       How are the cinematographic techniques and presentation of the film related to the historical context of the events portrayed?

9.       How accurately is the society of the time portrayed, especially with regard to the role of government and the structure of the family?

10.   What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this film to represent this period in Argentina?

Section 3: Media analysis  

Still analysis

Social Horror

This scene is an overhead shot of the social reaction to the repressive tactics of Rosas.  Camila must pass by the decapitated head of the bookseller so that she can enter church and plan her wedding.   The devastation of Camila and her family is clear through the lighting.  Artificial lighting is used on them to emphasize their actions and highlight them from the rest of the crowd. The use of soft focus also distinguishes them from the crowd. The colors of the townspeople contrast the dark of the soldiers, especially focusing on the woman with the bloody cloth.  However, it is important to see the whole crowd, which is why the frame is a long shot.  The camera is also at a slight right angle so you can see the townspeople better.  This scene is shown in an “open” frame, which is noticeable by all the action that appears to be going on.  We get the sense that we are NOT seeing the whole picture. This scene emphasizes the upper classes disregard for the social crisis of Rosas and foreshadows Camila’s tragic end.  

Camila Trapped

These two still frames are from a very important part in the film.  This is when Camila confesses to Ladislao that she is in love with a man, but that this man can’t love her in return.  In both still frames Camila is shown in a “closed” frame, which emphasizes that she is trapped by her emotions.  In the first still frame she is confessing and making it clear she doesn’t want him to act like a priest by saying she is his child, since it is he that she loves.  Then in the second frame as she is listening to Ladislao, it is shown by her facial expression that she can’t do much about her situation.  The camera’s shot is taken from inside the confession booth.  This shot shows Ladislao’s point of view.  Also, the camera uses soft focus with an extreme close up shot so that the only thing you see is her face in soft focus, emphasizing romance and passion.  This makes it clear to see her emotions as well.  Also, only one artificial key light is being used in order to illuminate only her face.  Although there is a small showing of background light that is trying to break through the confessional bars of the booth.  As stated before, the symbolism and message of these two frames shows that there is nothing Camila can do about her love for a man.  She appears hopeless and trapped by her passion. 

Ladislao trapped

In these two shots, Father Ladislao is in the church listening to the confession of Camila.  This is the part of the movie when Camila confesses her love for him.  Both frames include a dark shot of Ladislao with artificial light filtering in through the bars of the confession booth.  The second frame is an extreme close up of the expression of Ladislao, emphasizing the expression of his face and eyes.  Symbolism plays an enormous role in these two shots.  The lighting and shadows represents the confinement of Ladislao’s love for Camila.  The camera expresses Ladislao’s  entrapment by his faith and by the church.  The second frame shows excellent use of shadows.  The light seems to only hit of half his face.  This half represents his love for God and the church; the other half, which is left dark, represents his deep inner love for Camila.  The use of chiaroscuro light portrays Ladislao’s divided self.  The way that the bars of the confessional cross his face symbolizes his tragic end.


These two frames are near the middle of the movie when Camila and Ladislao have fled from their regular lives and family and plan to live on their own.  In this medium shot, they discuss what is happening between them and begin to question whether they made the right choice.  Camila questions Ladislao’s love for her and Ladislao is torn between the love he has for Camila and his faith.  Bemberg shoots this scene using one warm light shining from the left producing shadows in the scene.  The use of shadows represents the uncertainty expressed from Camila and Ladislao in their dialogue and expression.  There is a focus on the expression of their faces. Both characters are dressed in white as well as the curtains, the bed, and the walls are also white.  The use of warm light and white colors is ironic, since the scene occurs when they are confronting their “sin”.


These two still frames are from an important scene in the movie since they are from their execution.  The first still frame is taken as Ladislao is shot. There is an artificial light shining from the left since Ladislao is illuminated more than Camila.  In addition to this, the camera is in soft focus so you can see Camila a little bit clearer than Ladislao. This focus emphasizes her pain. The dimmer lighting emphasizes her depression and sadness.  The second still frame is an overhead shot taken after they are shot and placed in the coffin together.  Artificial lighting and deep focus were also used to make them both illuminated and of equal focus.  The use of color was clever since they are both wearing white shirts that make the red blood stand out more.  This still frame is a “closed” frame yet shows much symbolism.  This still shows that although they died, they will be able to be happy together since they no longer have to worry about hiding their love from each other.  They can both live together now in peace and love each other with no one to stop them. 

Media Literacy Questions

1.  From whose perspective is the film, Camila, presented?  Do you think the gender of the director, María Luisa Bemberg, strongly influenced the perspective? Why?

2.  Whose viewpoint was not heard in the film? 

3.  Who is the intended audience of this film?  How do you know?

4.  What sort of music was used in Camila?   Why was this music suitable for the film?  Did the time era of Camila have anything to do with it?

5.  What judgments do you make about the accuracy and realism of the film? Does the portrayal of Camila’s life end up seeming historically accurate?  Why or why not?

6.  How was Camila different from other Argentine women?  How did the film help show she was different?

7.  What kind of hidden tricks did the cinematography portray with Ladislao?  (i.e. when Ladislao was suffering from Bronte-esque fever, the thunder when God gets angry at Ladislao)  What were these hidden tricks trying to portray?  How does the film link melodrama and romanticism?

8.  Did the film represent the church as holding high authority and being powerful? Why or why not? 

9.  Why did the director María Luisa Bemberg emphasize the romance between Ladislao and Camila?  How did the camera and sound emphasize their romance as well?

10.  What are the types of symbols used by María Luisa Bemberg?  How do these pictures help grasp the message of the movie?

11.  Is Camila the type of film that can be enjoyed fully through mere, passive absorption or must the viewer engage himself in its themes, plotlines, etc. to be fully appreciated?

12.  How is the content and style of the film shown through the lighting? 

13.    How is the audience influenced by the portrayal of Camila? 

14. How would Camila be different if it were presented by a medium other than film (i.e. novel, soap opera, etc.)?

15.  What message is the director trying to get across to the audience through this film?

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