Jack Nilan            EMail : jacknilan@yahoo.com
Three Burials, Four Guys

In the movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, there were four kinds of people personified.

   There is the Belmont the local sheriff, played by Dwight Yoakam, who represents the "normal" American. He isn't concerned with what is right and wrong, he is more concerned with when his next rendezvous with the local waitress is going to be or what he is having for breakfast. The death of an illegal isn't high on his list of prorities and he goes along with the coverup because it is the easiest thing to do. He just want to bury Melquiades and be done with him. When Pete asks him if he is going to arrest Mike for the shooting Belmont says "I don't know a goddaam thing."

   Then there is Melquiades, played by Julio Cedillo, an illegal Mexican immigrant who doesn't have much of a life in his old world, trying to create a life for himself in this new world. He carries a picture of a family that is like the family he someday hopes to have. Unlike most traditional American immigrants, Melquiades does not want to come and live in America forever. He wants to come, make some money and then return home to a town, like the imaginary one Jimenez that he makes up. To Melquiades, Jimenez is his Mexican dream. It's like the house with the white picket fence in the suburbs for Americans.

Then there is Mike, played by Barry Peppers, who is the ignorant, ugly American. Unhappy in his own life, he reads Playboy and his wife watches soaps and cheats on her husband, he finds a group that he thinks he is better than. He puches a Mexican woman, illegally entering the US, because she tried to get away. As has so often been the case in America, the older established group tries to keep down the newer, disenfranchised group (No Irish Need Apply, etc.). If Mike is going to be miserable, so is everyone else who comes in contact with him.

Then there is Pete, who is an American who accepts people for who they are. He is not a perfect person. He, like Belmont,sleeps with the married waitress. But he is a throw back to the kind of characters Ben Johnson used to play in the old John Ford Westerns, he believes in doing things because it is the right thing to do. He is going to bring Melquides home to get buried, and he is bringing Mike with him. On the journey Mike learns the errors of his racist, xenophobic ways.

Three Burials is a lyrical, thought provoking, beautifully filmed, inspiring movie.