Stream/Society--Antigone Series--The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)


Location: Streaming (online)

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Screening & Zoom Discussion:

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
(Tommy Lee Jones, 2005, 116 min, France/USA/Mexico, English & Spanish with English subtitles, Color)

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-- Introduced by Andrés Fabián Henao Castro (Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston)

Relevant Publications:   

  • “Can the Palestinian Antigone Grieve? A Political Reinterpretation of Judith Butler’s Ethical Turn.” Settler Colonial Studies Vol. 10, No. 1 (2019): 94-109
  • “Antigone claimed: ‘I am a Stranger!’ Political Theory and the Figure of the Stranger.” Hypatia: Special Issue ‘Crossing Borders.’ Vol 28, no. 2 (2013): 307-322

This neo-Western film tells the story of Melquiades Estrada, a fictional undocumented immigrant working in Texas who is killed by Border Patrol agent, Norton. To conceal his crime, Norton illegally buries Melquiades in an unmarked grave in the desert, but the body keeps coming back to haunt the state with its unaddressed injustices. Like the body of Polyneices, in Sophocles’ ancient tragedy, Antigone, Melquiades receives not one but three burials, as the political interests of the local sheriff, Belmont, enter into conflict with the promise that Pete Perkins, Melquiades’ best friend, makes to him. Perkins promises Melquiades to bury him in his hometown of Jiménez, in the event of his death in Texas. Like Antigone’s subversive burial of Polyneices, Perkins’ forces other violences to appear, risking the crossing of more than one border in its path.

-- Followed by Zoom discussion (see registration link above)

Antigone Film Series:

In preparation for a two-day colloquium on Antigone in the world, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, in collaboration with Screen/Society, is happy to announce a 4-part international film series on Antigone, scheduled throughout Fall 2020. Curated by project co-organizer, Andrés Fabián Henao Castro, the four films selected are not strictly adaptations of Antigone (only one explicitly refers to Sophocles’ play), but each takes up the themes of political violence and contested burials in ways that productively resonate with the ancient tragedy. From Germany to the México-US border, and from Peru to the Congo, the political contestation over who can or cannot be buried exposes more than one violence in its course and invites us to reflect, yet again, on the historical violence that lays at the foundation of the state. The Antigone Film Series has been organized in preparation for a two-day Colloquium on “Antigone’s Worldings,” that will explore the reception, adaptation, and criticism of Sophocles’ ancient drama in a global text, in the Fall of 2021.

Other screenings in this online/streaming series:

Still from THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA (2005). Cecilia Suárez as Rosa, and Tommy Lee Jones as Pete Perkins.


Sponsor: Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI)--World Arts series

Co-Sponsors: Cinematic Arts at Duke University