The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

R  |   |  Adventure, Crime, Drama  |  24 February 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 33,120 users   Metascore: 77/100
Reviews: 198 user | 172 critic | 35 from

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


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4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Early morning in the oat fields of Carranco, Ramón runs into the dead body of his secret teenage love Adela. After he covers her naked body with his shirt, the gossip in town is that ... See full summary »

Director: Gabriel Retes
Stars: Diego Luna, Laila Saab, Karra Elejalde


Cast overview, first billed only:
Melquiades Estrada (as Julio César Cedillo)
Ignacio Guadalupe ...
Irineo Alvarez ...
Manuel (as Irineo Álvarez)
Border Patrolman


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. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


For justice. For loyalty. For friendship. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

24 February 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$759,792 (France) (2 December 2005)


$5,023,275 (USA) (2 June 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| | (TV)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The screenplay was written in Spanish by Guillermo Arriaga but was translated in to English by Tommy Lee Jones. See more »


After the hotel scene, when Pete and Melquiades Estrada drop the girls off at their vehicle, Melquiades Estrada gets back in the truck and puts the window up, a crew member can be seen in the reflection of the window. See more »


[Pete is forcing Mike to sleep besides the body of Melquiades Estrada]
Mike Norton: Hey! Hey, you!
Pete Perkins: My name is Pete.
Mike Norton: Well, Pete, the ants are eating your friend.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title of the film and the various title cards are in both English and Spanish. See more »


References Lonesome Dove (1989) See more »


Before The Next Teardrop Falls
Written by Ben Peters and Vivian Keith
Performed by Freddy Fender
© Shelby Singleton Music, Inc.
(P) 1974 Geffen Records
Courtesy of Universal Music Special Projects
See more »

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User Reviews

Nobody is beyond redemption...
2 December 2005 | by (Lomé) – See all my reviews

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is for me the film that saved 2005. Written by Guillermo Arriaga, also writer of "Amores Perros" and "21 grams" and the first movie of Tommy Lee Jones as a director (but also lead actor), "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" tells the story of Ranch hand Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) who wants to fulfill the promise he made to his recently deceased Mexican friend by burying him in his hometown in Mexico. The power of this modern western and initiatic journey resides in the complexity of the characters, their depth and their controversial behavior. None of the protagonists are one dimensional; none of them are right or wrong but all of them do right and wrong things. They are not always rational, and most of the time they feel lost. In one word they all appear profoundly human. Build over a chase dynamic fueled with contrasts and paradoxes, the film opposes Wild West landscape and Modern carton built houses, 4WD tracking hunt and horse back journey, fake TV soaps and true friendship but maybe most of all Freedom and Prison. Indeed most if not all characters are trapped in their apathetic lives from which they can't or don't want to escape forcing us to ask ourselves how close is our lives to the spectacle projected in front of our eyes. Melquiades Estrada embodies this possibility of Escape and now that he has been buried 3 times he transcends this Freedom making redemption possible not only through death but also through rebirth, suggesting that nobody is beyond it.

78 of 106 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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