El Juego de la Vida y la Muerte - The Game of Life and Death

An essential work to gain a better understanding of the game.

Over twenty years have passed since the filming of Ulama, the Game of Life and Death in 1984. In retrospect, I feel this is the appropriate moment to reflect on the positive effects of shooting this film and of its subsequent commercial release three years later. The reawakened interest in the Mesoamerican Ballgame gave rise to numerous efforts –both in Mexico and abroad- aimed at exploring and expanding on the subject. To mention only a few: the exhibit Ulama: a Living pre-Hispanic Tradition in the National Museum of Anthropology in 1986; the establishment of the Mexican Federation of Indigenous and Traditional Games and Sports; the construction of thematic monuments and recreational areas and finally, the timeless relevance and recurrence of this theme in festivals and international forums that mesmerizes audiences from all over the world.

However, the most important effect of the film has been the resurgence of the “Ulama” ball game in the state of Sinaloa, which during the mid 1980’s was on the verge of extinction. This ancestral sport is one of our most deep-rooted traditions that captures the very essence of Mexico ‘s glorious past and which, fortunately have endured up to the 21st century.

Because the hazards of modernity continue to threaten the survival of our traditions, we decided to use this very modernity to our advantage by adapting this classic Mexican documentary film to the new formats and incorporate an updated analysis and explanation of the concepts it reflects. The purpose of this endeavor is to cultivate the fields of Mexico’s ancestral traditions, to enrich and perpetuate them by linking the present to the grandeur of its past, as we prepare for our journey into the future.