One man has raised thousands of dollars to change the ending of ‘The Departed’


Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon in "The Departed."

By just about any measure, Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Boston crime drama “The Departed” was a success. The film won four Oscars, including Best Picture, and sits at No. 41 on IMDb’s user-generated top-rated movies list.

But video editor Adam Sacks has a big problem with the movie’s ending, and intends to do something about it.

“The Departed” centers around a pair of “rats”: one, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who infiltrates the ranks of local gangster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) on behalf of law enforcement, and the other, played by Matt Damon, who informs Costello from within the police department. The film ends with *spoiler alert* Damon’s corrupt cop shot dead by Sgt. Sean Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), before a rat scurries along a balcony looking out at the Massachusetts State House.


The rat cameo was a bit too on the nose for Sacks, so he started a Kickstarter on Tuesday titled “Digitally Erase the Rat From the End of The Departed.”

“It’s always bothered me that a movie as good as The Departed has such a cheesy ending, and I recently realized it could be fixed by digitally erasing the rat from the last shot,” Sacks wrote on Kickstarter.

At the time of this article’s publication, the campaign had raised $4,899, surpassing its $4,000 goal.

In response to Sacks’ campaign, at least one person has already edited out the rat and posted the footage online for free. (“I really don’t want anyone to give their money to this potato salad nonsense,” film editor Mark LaCroix wrote on Vimeo, “so I just did it for free last night. Enjoy.”) However, Sacks plans to use painstaking steps to achieve his vision, including printing the digital file onto 35mm film, and paying a professional editor to do the job.

“It’s well documented that Martin Scorsese is a strong believer in shooting movies on film and preserving the art of making movies on film,” Sacks told Gizmodo in an email about the rogue editor who posted the edited ending online for free. “Therefore, I think erasing the rat in his movie, and claiming that you’re done without also putting it onto 35mm film, is disrespectful to Mr. Scorsese’s legacy.”


Sacks’ campaign received a boost from at least one celebrity, director/producer Judd Apatow.

“I have always had an issue with that rat,” Apatow tweeted. “I won’t take sides in this debate. It’s too heated. I can’t risk all I have worked for by accidentally saying the wrong thing. These are tricky times and dammit I am scared. I have a family to feed. But I am not a fan of that rat.”

Sacks is definitely not the first to point out Scorsese’s heavy-handed metaphor. In a 2008 episode of “The Simpsons” titled “The Debarted,” Springfield Elementary student Ralph Wiggum pops out of a trash can to cheerfully point out that “the rat symbolizes obviousness.”

After attempting to indelibly change a legendary director’s vision, what will Sacks tackle for his next project?

“If it goes well,” Sacks said in a video he posted to Twitter, “I’d love to Kickstart my next passion project: digitally inserting the rat from ‘The Departed’ into ‘Ratatouille.'”