You might expect that a movie with the teasing title The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada would deal with issues of redemption and resurrection. The film does brush up against themes of spiritual rebirth at times, but it is primarily concerned with friendship and the decision to honor the sanctity of friendship even after death.
Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cesar Cedillo) is a young Mexican vaquero who enters the U.S. illegally and finds work on a Texas ranch run by Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed the film). Pete doesn’t care about Melquiades’s status, but only that he is honest and hard-working. It doesn’t take long for the two men, who share a love of horses and the land, to become good friends.