THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA
Release Date: December 14, 2005
Starring: Nick Nolte, Barry Pepper,
Hulio Cedillo, Dwight Yoakum,
January Jones, and Melissa Leo
Runtime: 121 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Executive Producer: Luc Besson and Pierre-Ange Le
Producer: Michael Fitzgerald and Tommy
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
Address Comments To:Michael Barker and Tom Bernard
Sony Pictures Classics
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Web Page: http://www.sonyclassics.com
Pete kidnaps the Border guard and forces him to disinter Mel's rotting corpse, so that Pete can carry out Mel's last wish: to be buried in his hometown in Mexico. With his captive in tow and Mel's body tied to a mule, Pete undertakes a dangerous and quixotic journey across the border.
The basic story in this often slow-moving plot may have been more interesting and rewarding if the script didn’t contain some extraneous material. The movie nicely sets up Pete's friendship with Mel in flashback, but it contains extraneous subplots regarding the Border guard’s wife and a married waitress. The waitress carries on extra-marital affairs with both the local sheriff and Pete. The waitress introduces the guard’s wife to Pete and Mel, and the four of them go off to a motel, where they fornicate.
The second half of the movie shows the Border guard coming to understand the people south of the border in a better way, including Mel, whose life he took and tried to bury. Eventually, he seeks forgiveness from Mel, Mel’s friend Pete and from God. This redemptive theme is couched in a strong pagan worldview, however, where the ends justify the means. Thus, Pete kidnaps the Border guard at gunpoint, and only circumstances prevent Pete’s anger from boiling over. The movie’s pagan worldview also makes light of adultery and fornication, and contains plenty of strong foul language.
THE THREE BURIALS also has strong politically correct elements. All of the illegal immigrants are good, poor or oppressed, and the movie generally portrays the U.S. Border Patrol and the local police as venal, bad and/or corrupt. Of course, the vast majority of illegal immigrants come to the United States for economic reasons, but they should not break the law and instead come legally. They should also focus their energies on improving the economic conditions in their own countries instead. Coming to the United States illegally is the easy way out, and because of that, sympathy for their plight should be squelched. Regrettably, the policies of the United States government and the Mexican government exacerbate the problem. Both governments, for instance, encourage illegal immigration by deciding not to enforce the laws for legal immigration. Also, like Europe, Mexico refuses to end socialist, anti-capitalist policies that have made a mess of its economy. Citizens on both sides of the border should work harder to reform these policies. The politically correct elements in THE THREE BURIALS do much more harm than good.
Finally, the violence in THE THREE BURIALS contains some gruesome scenes with Mel’s rotting corpse. These scenes add to the movie’s quirky nature.
Tommy Lee Jones directed and stars in THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES [“Mel-key-ah-daze”] ESTRADA. He plays Pete Perkins, a ranch foreman in West Texas who becomes friends with Mel Estrada, an illegal Mexican immigrant. A mean Border guard accidentally shoots Mel to death. The authorities cover up the accident and bury Mel as a pauper. Pete kidnaps the Border guard and forces him to disinter Mel's rotting corpse, so that they can carry out Mel's last wish: to be buried in his hometown in Mexico. With his captive in tow and Mel's body on a mule, Pete undertakes a dangerous and quixotic journey across the border.
The third act shows the Border guard, Mike, seeking forgiveness from Mel, Pete and even God. This redemptive theme is couched in a strong pagan worldview, however, where the ends (forgiveness and redemption) justify the means (Pete kidnaps and threatens the Border guard). The movie’s pagan worldview also makes light of adultery and fornication, and contains plenty of strong foul language. THE THREE BURIALS also has strong politically correct, anti-American elements regarding the issue of immigration. Its leftist attitudes are harmful and self-righteous