From the Archives - Location as a Character: ‘The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada’
In celebration of the Texas Film Commission's 50th Anniversary, we went to the archives to see how our history has been shaped by the initiatives, programs and productions from the past 50 years. View more from the archives here. #TFC50.
September 2004 | Filmmakers often talk about how the locations we see on screen become characters in and of themselves within the context of a story. It may be lush rolling hills, a bustling city, or as in the case of The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the harsh and unforgiving landscape of West Texas.
Tommy Lee Jones started thinking about directing what would become his first feature on a deer hunt deep in the unforgiving landscape of West Texas. There was no script yet. But he already knew the film’s dominant character wouldn’t utter a single line. - New York Times writer Christian Moerk
The director and writer have both discussed the ways in which the West Texas landscape shaped much of the story and became a constantly foreboding, yet silent, character throughout the film.
It was a deliberate choice to tell a story of friendship, loss and forgiveness in a hardscrabble territory without flashing the ‘message’ in neon, as Hollywood often does. - said, writer / director, Tommy Lee Jones
It is so beautiful, and so harsh it can be deadly. - Guillermo Arriaga, writer
To fully embody that ‘dominant character’ and capture these dramatic landscapes, the project filmed in several Texas communities including Van Horn, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park, Shafter, Canyon, Monahans, Redford and Odessa.