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Adam Sacks is on a mission to fix The Departed.
The Martin Scorsese best picture-winner is all but flawless. That is apart from the very last scene, according to Sacks, when an actual rat—intended as a symbolic representation of the movie’s theme—walks across the screen. In an effort to digitally remove the rat from the shot, Sacks created a Kickstarter aimed at raising $4,ooo.
To help explain his $4,000 goal, Sacks made a short video breaking down his process.
“It is insane to me that (Scorsese) would end any movie with such a painfully on-the-nose metaphor,” Sacks said. “Which is why in the tradition of Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas digitally altering their movies after the fact, I want to digitally erase the rat from the end of The Departed.”
The Kickstarter gives a full breakdown, in both video and text forms, of how Sacks intends to spend his $4,000. His process begins with purchasing a Blu-ray version of the film, as well as a Blu-ray player in which it can be viewed. His next $59 will go toward a Blu-ray-ripping software called Acrok Video Converter Ultimate. Then the largest expense comes in.
Ed Mundy, a visual effects artist, will cost Sacks $599 of his $4,000. Why such a specific number? “I’m paying Ed $599 dollars because if you pay someone $600 dollars or more, the IRS requires you to send them a 1099 MISC form at the end of the year,” Sacks explained. “And that’s too much work for me.”
From there, Sacks’ plan gets even more ambitious. He needs just under $415 to print the digital copy of the rat-less film onto 35mm film, to match the original. How else is he supposed to replace the original version with his new and improved copy? Due to his lack of old-school viewing equipment, Sacks will then require $170 to convert the film back to a digital file.
In his last step before distribution, Sacks asks for $57.69 to purchase a one-month subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, which he will use to edit his new and improved ending onto the film. From there, he hopes to purchase 50 burnable Blu-ray disks, which he will pay an intern $15 an hour to burn The Departed onto. “Many companies don’t pay their interns, which I’ve always thought was a shameful practice,” Sacks wrote. “So I’m committed to paying my intern $15/hr and figure it will take about 25 hours to complete the task.” Good on you, Sacks.
Sacks is fully aware that his goal could upset the owners of the rights to The Departed—Warner Bros. Entertainment. Toward the bottom of his Kickstarter page, he explains that as long as he doesn’t receive a cease and desist letter, and manages to reach his $4,000 goal, the digital erasure will happen. If it all works out, Sacks will send a copy of his enhanced version of the film to anyone who donated over $70. He can’t sell the movie, of course, but the $70 will allow him to go out and buy a Blu-ray version of the film, throw it away, and replace it with his “superior version.”
Due to the nebulous legality of this Kickstarter project, if you want to receive a the Blu-ray copy of the rat-less version of The Departed, there are a few hoops we will have to jump through. pic.twitter.com/Z2uYyukzs1— Erase the rat in The Departed (@RatErase) February 19, 2019
If you want to see what Scorsese’s iconic crime thriller would look like completely devoid of actual rats, but don’t have $70 to shell out for a Blu-ray copy, Sacks offers a few alternatives. For a $20 donation, interested parties will receive screenshots of the final scene, before and after the rat’s removal. For $30 more, donors will receive a digital copy of the ending scene, with no rats in sight. “You can watch The Departed, pause before the last shot, and then watch the video,” Sacks explains.
Sacks even made a Twitter page so that people could follow the campaign, and watch as he goes through the process. The campaign has already reached $2,335 as of this writing, and still has 29 days to go. A rat-less version of The Departed is looking like a very real possibility—though we can’t do anything about Jack Nicholson’s painfully uneven Boston accent.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.