La guerra gaucha (The Gaucho War) is a 1942 Silver Condor award winning Argentine historical drama and epic film directed by Lucas Demare and starring Enrique Muiño, Francisco Petrone, ÁngelMagaña, and Amelia Bence. The film's script, written by Homero Manzi and Ulyses Petit de Murat, is based on the novel by Leopoldo Lugones published in 1905. The film premiered in Buenos Aires on November20, 1942 and is considered by critics of Argentine cinema to be one of the most successful films in history. The film is set in 1817 in the Salta Province of northwest Argentina during theArgentine War of Independence. It is based on the actions taken by the guerrillas under the command of the general Martin Güemes in favor of provincial independence, and against the royalist army undercommand of the Spanish monarchy. For exterior filming, a village was established in the same area where the original events had occurred. The cast of some thousand participants was unprecedented inArgentine cinema until that time.
The origins and content of the film are linked to a particular moment in Argentine history in which there was an intense debate over whether the country should takethe side of either the Axis or the Allies during World War II, or maintain its neutrality during the war. The film stresses the values associated with nationalism as expressed in the union of thepeople, the army, and the church in defense of the country, which was considered by some a prelude to the revolutionary ideology that led to, on June 4, 1943, the overthrowing of the government ofpresident Ramón Castillo.
The film was produced by Artistas Argentinos Asociados (Associated Argentine Artists), a cooperative of artists created just a short time before production began. Itrequired an investment far beyond other productions of the period but the commercial success of the film allowed it to recover the cost in the first-run theaters, where it remained for nineteen weeks.