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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

R  |   |  Adventure, Crime, Drama  |  24 February 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 32,908 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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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?


Much of the movie was shot on Tommy Lee Jones's own ranch. See more »


Pepper's hair doesn't change in length for the entire stretch of his kidnapping. See more »


Pete Perkins: Thank you!
Old Man with Radio: I need to ask you a favor.
Pete Perkins: Anything you want.
Old Man with Radio: I need you to go ahead and shoot me. My son, he ain't coming back.
Pete Perkins: Oh, he'll come back.
Old Man with Radio: He said he had cancer. Told me to go into town with him. But I don't want to go. I've lived here all my life. I don't want to offend God by shooting myself. It's a problem, you see.
Pete Perkins: We don't want to offend God neither.
[Pete and Mike start to leave]
Old Man with Radio: You're good people. You need to go ahead and shoot me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in 2006 Independent Spirit Awards (2006) See more »


Courtesy of José Stephens (as Pepe Stephens)
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.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why was there no Jimenez and why the fake family picture? decflatte
Pity For Mike (Pepper)? muse83
Why didn't he shoot? mastholte
Does anybody actually know or can trace the path they followed? stobon
The most heartbreaking scene ever.... thirtymiles
Tommy Lee Jones's Spanish TheFlickChick

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