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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Dwight Yoakum
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2006     2hr 1min

Oscar® winner Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor, The Fugitive, 1993) directs and stars in this poetic and striking modern-day Western. Peter Perkins (Jones) is a veteran cowboy who embodies the values of the old west,...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Dwight Yoakum
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/06/2006
Original Release Date: 02/03/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 02/03/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 1min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

George K. from COLCHESTER, CT
Reviewed on 8/5/2013...
This is a great western. Don't let the six-gun on the cover art fool you. It's set in the contemporary American west, and it deals with the question of illegal immigration. And more. Lots more.

The main cast is flawless, with Tommy Lee Jones outdoing himself as a fair-minded Texan, with Barry Pepper giving a strong performance as a harsh border patrolman, January Jones as the patrolman's wife, and Melissa Leo as a well-traveled diner waitress. The supporting cast is excellent, as well.

If you don't like westerns, no problem. There's no showdown with six-guns blazing. Only a nicely paced, tensely dramatic story of friendship and redemption.

Movie Reviews

We need not be outsiders
JackOfMostTrades | Washington, DC | 05/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great film replete with suggestive symbols of grace, redemption, magical thinking, loss and the boundaries that are personal, cultural, and spiritual, not merely geographic. Ironically, when a dreamless, aimless Barry Pepper, who seems already past his prime at 30 becomes a member of the border patrol, he shoots an anonymous Mexican (Jones's blood brother so to speak)--and not even having the sympathy to try to help him--in fact, not having the humanity to even touch him as he lies bleeding to death--is more concerned about his job than another human being. In this case the Mexican to him is merely a type, not really a person. On the other hand Tommy Lee Jones, who sees the person behind the persona, is more concerned about the soul than the outward trappings of language or labels. When he discovers his friend dies at the hands of Pepper, Jomes sits in his friend's modest shack just to feel his presence--to commune with his dead friend, as a means of coming to terms with his grief. Faced with the indifferent locals who would rather save their butts than save their souls, Jones takes it on himself to become the humanizing agent in a mercenary world. Forcing the border guard at gunpoint to accompany his friend to his final burial place, he traverses a bleak land that could be the Eliot's wasteland or the underworld. When he brings his friend home, he finds to his surprise, this beloved Mexican town is not what it is described to be. But as he understands that sometimes the imagination fulfills a purpose that life cannot, dignifies the death of his friend and redeems the humanity of the border guard. This film shows how human relations matter; how the electronic media are mere illusion producing devices; and even an old cowboy's body can find the fountain of youth by sticking to basic principles of human decency and understanding, and even the most direloneliness can be overcome even miles from home."
Unique and excellent Western!
Carol Engan Borrelli (author) | Central Florida, USA | 07/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm a western movie lover. This was a movie that really scratched that itch. Tommy Lee Jones is terrific and shows once again what a fine actor he really is. Julio Cedillo, as Melquiades Estrada, is an excellent actor and also, ladies, very handsome. All in all, it is really an excellent movie.

The tale is one of deep friendship between two people that come from different worlds.....and the border that divides two countries as well as peoples' souls. It is a story of loyalty and dedication in the face of adversity. The scenery is excellent and the content is amazingly accurate, i.e. capturing the area of wilderness that lies in Texas and in Mexico.

It is a bit harsh at times, being that Tommy Lee Jones literally has his buddy dug up, after he is murdered, and then carts him back to his home in Mexico to be buried, all the while dragging with him an obnoxious and disgusting border patrol agent. You get over the harshness rather quickly, though, as you come to understand the principles behind the man and his actions.

Highly recommended, the movie takes you away from present day societal craziness for a while, and plunks you into present day rural craziness for a while. It was great."
Instills hope that movies can still be powerful.
Joel Munyon | Joliet, Illinois - the poohole of America. | 06/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Let's face it, 2006-2007 have been two of the worse years in movie-making history. It seems like the well-thought-out drama has become extinct and given way to the slash-up-a-tourist or demon genres. Even the indy circuit seems pressed to deliver agenda-laden films instead of stories that speak to us. Upon viewing The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, however, I now know there is still hope.

It is clear that Jones poured his heart and soul into directing this film and for someone who co-starred in perhaps the western genres greatest story ever - Lonesome Dove - Jones was just the man to direct and star in this movie.

The story (written mastefully by Guillermo Arriaga) settles in on a friendship between two cowboys. One is a Texan (Jones) and the other is a gentle Mexican named Melquiades (Julio Cedillo). We see through flashbacks that the two men develop a quick and dynamic bond. This bond is so strong that it survives the death of Melquiades, who is killed by a trigger-happy and thoughtless border guard named Mike Norton (Barry Pepper). Pete Perkins (played by Jones) is determined to bury his friend in a town Melquiades called home while living in Mexico and makes sure that Norton comes along for the journey, willingly or otherwise.

Seldom have I witnessed a message as pure as the one found in this film, and that message revolves around the boundlessness of true friendship. Friendship does not come lightly to Pete Perkins as he sets out to honor the memory of his friend while at the same time attempting to teach Norton that real redemption comes at a high cost.

As for the last 10 minutes of the film, words cannot suffice. You will simply have to watch it and sit in awe of the power that comes from understanding wholly and completely the dreams of another and making them your own. It is here, at the end of the journey, where we see the world as Perkins sees it, and as Melquiades first saw it.