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Argentina as a muse: works of art inspired by Argentinian landscapes

Francis Ford Coppola found creative inspiration in the energy of Buenos Aires. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry estimated the mountains of Argentina from an aerial point of view. From the snowy Andes and the remote regions of Tierra del Fuego to the waterfalls of Iguazu, Argentina’s landscapes have inspired many generations of artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Patagonia

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry examined the landscapes of Argentina from a privileged angle: the cockpit. After years of flying in Europe and Africa, the French aviator and writer was transferred to South America in 1929. As director of Aeroposta Argentina, he inaugurated new routes between Buenos Aires and two coastal cities of Patagonia, Comodoro Rivadavia and Rio Gallegos.

The experience of Saint-Exupéry over the country inspired his second novel “Night Flight”, shot in Argentina and published in 1931. It is believed that he flew over a particular mountain shaped hut, near the peninsula of Valdes, who is now a popular whale. Goal – inspired his famous illustration of a “boa constrictor digesting an elephant” in The Little Prince.

But Patagonia is not the only region in Argentina to have influenced the masterpiece of Saint-Exupéry. In 1929, he had mechanical problems when he flew north of Buenos Aires and had to land on a field in the northeastern province of Entre Ríos. Two girls on horseback approached him and offered help; They understood when he spoke to them in French. Saint-Exupéry spent the night – the first of many – with the French-speaking Fuchs family. They lived temporarily in Castillo San Carlos, a ruined castle near the banks of the Rio Uruguay, and it was generally believed that the author’s time determined certain details of his most important work.

Today, travelers can follow in their footsteps by visiting the old villa located in a public park outside the city of Concordia.

Gustavo Santaolalla – Iguazu Falls and Ruta Nacional 40

Oscar-winning composer and musician Gustavo Santaolalla has been living in Los Angeles for decades. But he often comes back to his native Argentina for artistic inspiration. One of his most famous pieces, “Iguazu”, owes its name to the Iguazú Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world, on the border between Argentina and Brazil. In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2006 film, Babel, the work is a captivating solo arrangement for the Charango – an Andean lute – that evokes the sensation of rushing.

The references to the Argentinean landscapes appear in all the music of Santaolalla. His 1998 recording “From Ushuaia to La Quiaca” was used at the end of Walter Salles’ film “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004). The Santaolala title refers to the southernmost and northernmost city of Argentina – Ushuaia or La Quiaca – and to their long journey along the famous Ruta Nacional 40 highway. It was a good choice for the band original of a movie about a young Che Guevara traveling across South America on a motorcycle. Shortly after the release of the film, Santaolalla won two consecutive Oscars for the best original score of Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006).

Maria Elena Walsh – Jujuy and the North West

The great poet, musician, playwright and Argentine composer Maria Elena Walsh (1930-2011) remembers the best of her children’s songs. Their complex work is however intended for an audience of all ages. Some of his poems and music celebrate the landscapes and peoples of Argentina, especially those of the Northwest: his first collaborations with the folk musician Leda Valladares include songs such as “Viva Jujuy” and “Chacarera del Valle, a beautiful mountain town outside the city of Tucumán.

His later work brought political and social messages: As a declared feminist and liberal, Walsh was a sharp critic of the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-93). His 1967 recording “El País del Nomeacuerdo” (“The Country I Can not Remember”) was the subject of The Official Story – a movie about a family living under military rule – which won the Oscar for Best foreign language Film in 1985.

Francis Ford Coppola – Buenos Aires

The acclaimed director (known for his classic The Godfather in 1972) does not downplay his affection for Argentina. He spoke publicly about the beauty of the country and called Argentine wines “the great secret of the world”.

Francis Ford Coppola is primarily attracted by the intellectual character and cultural traditions of Argentina, from cinema and theater to music and literature. No wonder then that he chose Buenos Aires as a backdrop for his film Tetro 2009. During his one-and-a-half-year shoot near La Boca, Coppola rented a house in Palermo Soho and spent his free time walk around the city, have breakfast in historic cafes and eat in traditional steakhouses. His love for Buenos Aires is reflected in Palermo Soho’s film and rental house, which he turned into a boutique hotel at the door.

Mercedes Sosa – Tucumán

The legendary singer Mercedes Sosa (1935-2009) nicknamed “The Voice of America” ​​brought the Argentine folk music to the rest of the world. Originally from the city of Tucumán, in northwestern Argentina, Sosa did not write his own music.

Sosa’s moving interpretations of these pieces, many of which have paid tribute to the landscapes and culture of northwestern Argentina (such as “Luna Tucumana” or “Moon of Tucumán”) have earned him worldwide recognition. In the 1990s, she sold out at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, at the Coliseum in Rome, and even in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. In the year of his death, Sosa released an album, Cantora, which collected his duets with a list of Latin American musical talents, from Shakira to Caetano Veloso via Calle 13.

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Like Maria Elena Walsh, Sosa was also known for her political activism: through music, she celebrated the natural beauty of her country and challenged her leaders during the military dictatorship. So Sosa has his other nickname: “The voice of the voiceless”.

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