The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

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Still of January Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaStill of Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaTommy Lee Jones and Dawn Jones at event of The Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaStill of Dwight Yoakam in The Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaStill of Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaStill of Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Ranch hand Pete Perkins looks to fulfill the promise to his recently deceased best friend by burying him in his hometown in Mexico.

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 7.5/10 (23,359 voted)

Critic's Score: 77/100

Director: Tommy Lee Jones

Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam

A man is shot and quickly buried in the high desert of west Texas. The body is found and reburied in Van Horn's town cemetery. Pete Perkins, a local ranch foreman, kidnaps a Border Patrolman and forces him to disinter the body. With his captive in tow and the body tied to a mule, Pete undertakes a dangerous and quixotic journey into Mexico.

Tommy Lee Jones - Pete Perkins
Barry Pepper - Mike Norton
Julio Cedillo - Melquiades Estrada (as Julio César Cedillo)
Dwight Yoakam - Belmont
January Jones - Lou Ann Norton
Melissa Leo - Rachel
Levon Helm - Old Man with Radio
Mel Rodriguez - Captain Gomez
Cecilia Suárez - Rosa
Ignacio Guadalupe - Lucio
Vanessa Bauche - Mariana
Irineo Alvarez - Manuel (as Irineo Álvarez)
Guillermo Arriaga - Juan
Josh Berry - Border Patrolman
Rodger Boyce - Salesman

Taglines: Nobody is beyond redemption.


Official Website: Sony Classics [United States] |

Release Date: 3 February 2006

Filming Locations: Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA

Opening Weekend: $23,859 (USA) (18 December 2005)

Gross: $5,023,275 (USA) (4 June 2006)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Argentina: (Mar del Plata Film Festival)  | Turkey: (TV version)

Did You Know?

Cameo: ['Guillermo Arriaga'] a helpful Mexican vaquero

Continuity: Pepper's hair doesn't change in length for the entire stretch of his kidnapping.

Mike Norton: [reassuring Lou Ann] Your my red hot mamma...

User Review

Powerful and moving modern western


The "Three burials of Melquiades Estrada" is a multi-layered story of death, retribution, loneliness, and remembrance. Although it takes place in modern day Texas, its main character Pete Perkins, superbly played by Tommy Lee Jones, seems to be living resolutely in the past. He is determined to seek justice for his best friend's death and forces the guy responsible for to a journey across the borders in Mexico to locate the village of the deceased for a proper burial. This journey will bring forward the stark contrast between the values of two ways of life and the landscape transversed is both geographical and emotional.

Modern civilization throughout the film is mainly represented by 4WD cars, sniper rifles, dinners, shopping malls, trailers, and TV-sets incessantly showing soap operas, while the characters revelling into those manifestations are invariably emotionally numb, disaffected people, trapped to a perfunctory life from which they seem unable or unwilling to escape. Concomitantly the values of the old west, based on friendship, loyalty and commitment have ebbed, though they are still existent as embodied by the relationship of Pete with his best friend. Pete is forced to pursue his own sense of justice after being repeatedly scorned by the contemptuous behavior of the authorities towards him and his demand for rightful punishment of the culprit, a cool, violence prone and emotionally detached border-guard.

The story is masterly told in a sturdy manner that perfectly serves the complexity of the excellent screenplay by an apposite use of flashbacks and wonderfully shot sequences. All the performances are top notch in their expressive minimalism, greatly contributing to the lasting emotional impact of this outstanding film.


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