A Kickstarter campaign to remove the rat from the final shot of The Departed has hit its funding goal. Back in 2006, The Departed scored Martin Scorsese his first ever Oscar for Best Director, while bringing in three other trophies for Best Picture, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was a remake of Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau’s 2002 film, Infernal Affairs and was Scorsese’s highest grossing movie ever until Shutter Island was released in 2010.
With its impressive cast that included Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson and Alec Baldwin, The Departed told the story of two informants - Colin (Damon), who is placed within the ranks of the Massachusetts State Police by the Irish mob, and Billy (DiCaprio), who is placed within the ranks of the Irish mob by the state police. Life soon becomes very challenging for both "rats" as they attempt to navigate the demands of their highly stressful jobs and it isn’t long before much blood is spilled. In what has arguably become one the most talked about scenes in The Departed, the film’s final shot shows a single rat running across the screen to symbolize political and criminal corruption.
The rat scene has not sat well with many over the years and now, film fan Adam Sacks has jokingly set up his own Kickstarter campaign to remove the pesky rat from The Departed once and for all. Sacks says that in order to pull this feat off, he’ll require $4,000. As of this writing, there are 28 days left to go in the campaign and Sacks has already reached his goal.
While the whole thing reads as satire, Sacks created a video on his Kickstarter in which he clearly explains his intent as well as his reasoning for it, detailing how every dollar of his budget will be spent to bring this vision to fruition. Now that the $4,000 price tag is broken it'll be interesting to see if Sacks actually follows through on his agenda (as he says he will in the only question in the video's FAQ section). Because he cannot legally sell the altered copies of the film once the work is complete, Sacks will only be giving away the fifty “limited edition” Blu-rays to those who contribute $70 or more. However, the legalities of this project remain somewhat concerning and Sacks has admitted that there is a possibility of a cease and desist letter from Warner Bros..
Everyone has something about a specific film that they would like to change, but actually going out and doing it comes off as disrespectful to the filmmaker’s original vision. After reaching its funding goal, the Kickstarter even drew the ire of Chronicle director Josh Trank, who tweeted "The rat was the filmmaker's choice. It lives forever. Make your own movie. Sincerely, All Filmmakers Ever." As many may remember, Trank directed 2015's failed Fantastic Four reboot and had his vision drastically changed in reshoots. Whether or not Trank is in on the joke isn't clear.
What’s more, legal warnings on Blu-rays and DVDs implicitly state that unauthorized reproduction or distribution (even without monetary gain) is prohibited. But of course, this hasn’t stopped the current 111 backers from offering up their cash for a rat-free version of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, nor will it prevent the ongoing unpopularity of the film’s signature rodent.