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
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.
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