Caution: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t watched Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’.
The 2006 crime drama The Departed may have won four Oscars, including Best Director for Martin Scorsese and Best Picture, but there was one scene that did not impress some fans – so much so that 13 years after its release, a Kickstarter campaign has managed to raise more than $4,000 to edit the movie.
Scorsese’s film, a remake of the Hong Kong action film Infernal Affairs (2002), follows two men on contrasting undercover missions – one, a police officer who is investigating an Irish mob and the other, a mole planted by the gangsters in the police department. The scene that divided fans is the finale. Sergeant Sean Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) walks into the room of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who is the mole planted in the Massachusetts State Police by mafia boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and shoots him dead. The camera moves up from a bloodied Sullivan on the floor to a window, with the Massachusetts State House outside. A rat shows up before the end credits roll, a metaphor for Sullivan’s character. The Massachusetts State House, another recurring motif, appeared in many of Sullivan’s scenes, alluding to his quest for power.
For film buff Adam Sacks, the symbolism was a little too heavy-handed. On February 19, Sacks launched a Kickstarter campaign asking for $4,000 to digitally erase the rat from the scene. Scott said he wanted his rodent-free version to be the official ending and explained the break down of the cost. The process would include making the edit digitally, printing it on to 35mm film, converting it back to digital and then making Blu-Ray DVDs of the movie for campaign contributors who want to watch his version.
“It’s always bothered me that a movie as good as The Departed has such a cheesy ending, and I recently realised it could be fixed by digitally erasing the rat from the last shot,” Sacks wrote. “All ambitious projects have risks and this one is no exception: mainly Warner Bros. owns the copyright to The Departed and may not appreciate me fixing their movie. But if I don’t receive a cease and desist letter and hit $4,000 it will happen. So please give me money so that together we can digitally erase the rat from the end of The Departed.”
While Scott managed to raise the money within a day (he has received $4,902 so far from 132 backers), another Departed fan decided to skip the fuss and make the edit himself, free of cost. Video game developer Mark LaCroix uploaded his rat-less version to Vimeo, which was then shared by Twitter account, Eyes on Cinema.
“Yesterday, some wiseguy put up a Kickstarter to digitally erase the Rat from the end of The Departed, and asked for $4,000 to do it,” LaCroix wrote on Vimeo. “Surely, it has the potential to raise much more than that. I really don’t want anyone to give their money to this potato salad nonsense, so I just did it for free last night.”
Meanwhile, the campaign sparked a debate on Twitter, with several speaking up in support of the rodent and others waiting for him to depart the movie.
A rat supporter even set up a rival Twitter account, called The Rat From the Departed. “Great... the only other major roles I’ve had since the Departed was the motion capture work from Ratatouille movie and someone wants to cut me out,” said a tweet from the account.