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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

4.3 out of 5 stars 239 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Oscar(r) 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, living in a small Texas town bordering the U.S. and Mexico. He hires Melquiades Estrada as a ranch hand and quickly befriends the man. But when Estrada is gunned down under mysterious circumstances, Perkins takes justice into his own hands and kidnaps a trigger-happy border patrolman (Barry Pepper - Saving Private Ryan), forcing Perkins to unearth Estrada's body and accompany Perkins on horseback on the long and treacherous journey through the frontier mountains and back roads of Mexico to bring his friend's body home.

Special Features

  • Viewable in both 2.35:1 Widescreen aspect ratio, and 1.33:1 Fullscreen aspect ratio
  • Commentary by director/star Tommy Lee Jones and actors Dwight Yoakam and Jennifer Jones

Product Details

  • Actors: Tommy Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam
  • Directors: Tommy Jones
  • Producers: Tommy Jones, Michael Fitzgerald, Luc Besson, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000F8O2QU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,960 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
The movie may be misunderstood as being some kind of set-piece for the current illegal alien controversy, but I think it was intended to be much more and much deeper than that, if I've understood anything at all about Tommy Lee Jones. My viewpoint is different from most because I lived for years in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas. I've jeeped in vast, wild areas there with nothing but a companion, food, beer, and our weapons. I loved the Mexican people who lived there, along with the other "gringos" like me, who were often misfits, derelicts, outcasts from the defunct oil fields, and more than a few borderline criminals in a savagely cruel border land.

Enough color.

My wife hated the movie, and I don't think many women will like it. It's a man's movie, as most of Mr. Jones' movies are. The appeal is limited to Westerners, I think, because I doubt that anyone seeing this in, say, Indianapolis, or Boston, will have any idea what the hell it's all about, or that such a thing could even be possible. It can. Actually, I'd say that if I read about such a thing happening in the El Paso Times it wouldn't surprise me overly. Nobody ever went jeeping in the Daylight Draw from the Rio Grande up to Sierra Blanca, Texas, without a revolver and a rifle, but how do you explain why that it is to someone who's never been west of the Pecos River?

Well, it's about a man, his friend, the man's anger, the man's outrage over the death of his friend, and the relentless, untiring pursuit of justice, set in an ancient, hostile, horribly beautiful country, surprisingly little disturbed by "civilized" men since the Spanish blundered over it centures ago. And it's about indifference, shallow stupidity, crude sex, and the infliction of TV on rural Mexicans. I don't know which is worse...
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