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Movie buff raises thousands to alter scene

The Boston-based gangster movie “The Departed,” widely heralded more than a decade after its release, stands as the only of legendary director Martin Scorsese’s films to win an Oscar for “Best Picture.” 

It grossed more than $290 million in the box office. 

But one piece of the film has never sat right with fan Adam Sacks. 

It happens at the end, when a healthy-sized rat races along the railing of an outside balcony of a Beacon Hill apartment with the Massachusetts State House in the background. 

Sacks, of New York, this week launched an online Kickstarter campaign to “digitally remove” the rat from the movie. Believe it or not, he quickly raised more than $4,900 toward his effort, surpassing his goal of $4,000. 

“That rat was a bad idea and we can fix it,” his campaign motto reads. 

See the final scene of “The Departed” here:

“The Departed” is all about “rats.” Billy Costigan, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, infiltrates a South Boston Irish-American gang led by Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson. DiCaprio is an informant for law enforcement. He’s matched by Colin Sullivan, played by actor Matt Damon, who is tied to the gang and infiltrates state police. It’s a race to see who can expose the other. 

So concluding the movie with a rat — which appears on the screen right after Damon’s character is shot and killed in the apartment — might seem like an appropriate metaphor. 

But for Sacks, it’s simply too literal and too cheesy, a real head-scratcher coming from the great Scorsese.

“Unfortunately, the movie has one giant, glaring flaw,” Sacks says in a video outlining his cause. “In the last shot, Scorsese has an actual rat crawl across screen. The rat symbolizes rats.

“It’s insane to me that he would end any movie with such a painfully, on-the-nose metaphor.”

Sacks continues that “in the tradition of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas” — who oversaw changes to “ET” and “Star Wars” long after they were released — he wants to digitally eliminate the rat from the end of “The Departed.”

“But unlike Lucas and Spielberg’s changes, this will make ‘The Departed’ a much better movie.”

He says it won’t be cheap to digitally alter a film in a way that honors Scorsese through the use of 35-millimeter film.  

The $4,000 is needed, he says, to purchase a Blue-ray copy of “The Departed,” buy a Blue-ray player and converter, hire visual effects specialist Ed Mundy, print the altered version on 35-millimeter film and covert it to an online file, and purchase 50 blank Blu-ray disks to print the “improved version” of the movie.

He acknowledged that he cannot sell the altered version because of copyright issues.

But for $70, he says he can purchase a Blue-ray copy of the movie, throw away the disk and mail the consumer the rat-less version of “The Departed.” 

“Will you really do this?” he says, reciting his most frequently asked question. “Yes.”

“Now, of course any project as ambitious as this has its challenges. Mainly, I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this. But if I don’t receive a cease-and-desist letter and we hit $4,000, it will happen.” 

He’s got the money — but there might not be the demand for his new version of “The Departed” that he had expected. 

That’s because another movie fan responded to the Kickstarter campaign by eliminating the rat for free. 

Matt LaCroix posted his own, online-only version of the altered ending on Vimeo. 

“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,” he wrote on the Vimeo page. “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. Enjoy.”

A version of the end of “The Departed” with the rat digitally erased:

Reach Joey Garrison at jgarrison@usatoday.com and on Twitter @joeygarrison. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/02/23/departed-rat-ending-movie-buff-raises-thousands-alter-scene/2961359002/




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