The Devil's Backbone

Institute History

  • 1993 Guadalajara Mexican Screenwriters Lab


On the last day of Creation, God and the Devil fought each other for the custody of Man's soul. At the end, as usual, no one prevailed.

God, always satisfied, and infinitely busy -with oh so many galaxies yet to be created!-decided to watch man from afar, sitting comfor­tably on his golden throne, surrounded by choirs of archangels and cherubs

The Devil, always close to mankind, and with a badly injured back as a result of the fight, decided to stay down here on Earth.

He lay down to sleep and his body became a mountain: "The Devil's Backbone".

At the foot of this mountain, on the edge of an infinite plain, lies Tilma, a small town of cracked walls and gray people.

Some claim that year after year, during the dog days -while enjoying absolute permission from God-the Devil wakes up from his slumber and wanders through the streets of Tilma in the guise of a brown, poisonous gust of wind.

During the dog days the townspeople also celebrate their annual fair, hoping to drown, in a whirlwind of colored lights, Church celebration and merry-go-round music, the fear of losing their souls.

And it is to this particular fair that Rodolfo and his family arrive for the first time.

Rodolfo is eleven and gifted with a unique imagination. His mother, pregnant to the point of explosion. sells tickets for their tiny exhibit of freaks of nature while his father and himself perform modest acts of sleight of hand and cheap magic .

In Tilma, Rodolfo will find fertile soil for his innermost desires and fears, and will be pulled into a lonely, nightmarish rite of passage into manhood.


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