Just a day after its launch, a Kickstarter to painstakingly edit the infamous rat out of a 35mm cut of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Oscar-winning crime drama The Departed exceeded its crowdfunding goal of $4,000. But if you’d like to see what this might look like prior to the debut of the 35mm revision, Twitter has delivered.
Director Adam Sacks is the brains behind the Kickstarter effort to purge The Departed of its vermin, an undertaking he told Gizmodo he plans to make good on. He writes on Kickstarter that it had always bothered him “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.” But on Wednesday, the Twitter account Eyes On Cinema shared a clip of the scene it said was edited by motion graphics artist and video game developer Mark LaCroix, sans rat.
“Fun fact: the view out the window was digitally inserted in the film, which made tracking the shot in order to remove the rat more difficult than you’d expect because the original motion matching... wasn’t quite perfect,” LaCroix tweeted.
Reached by Gizmodo on Twitter, LaCroix—who originally posted his edit of the scene on Vimeo—said he was moved to beat the Kickstarter to the punch shortly after it started gaining traction because “while I recognized that it was made in a fun, joking spirit, I absolutely hate and don’t want anyone giving money to that kind of potato salad nonsense.” He produced the clip, he said, as a “knowingly fruitless protest effort to prevent people from giving money to the campaign.” (He recognizes, however, that it’s met its goal anyway.)
“As to the substance of the matter: I think the rat at the end of the Departed is fine and didn’t need to be removed,” LaCroix told Gizmodo. “I even like that it’s a fairly blunt metaphor, which fits the tone of the film (especially Mark Walberg’s gonzo performance).”
Sacks, who says he does not know LaCroix, told Gizmodo by email that while the clip shared to Twitter “is a nice pre-visualization for what I’m setting out to do,” it doesn’t accomplish the end goal of printing the edited version onto 35mm film—true to the work of film evangelist Scorsese.
“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 said. “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 meticulously outlined how his budget of $4,000 would be spent, a 9-part process that will include purchasing a Blu-ray player and ripper software, paying a visual effects artist to cut the rat, a lengthy process involving printing the movie onto 33mm film and then converting it back to digital, and hiring an intern to burn all of the copies of the remedied version of The Departed once Sacks is able to pull it all off (at a fair $15 an hour, no less).
Now that he’s reached his goal, it sounds like Sacks has his work cut out for him. The Kickstarter states an estimated delivery date of November for any Blu-ray copies of the final product, but Sacks says he’s “hoping to get it done well before then.”
Update 2/21/19 2:30 p.m. ET: Added statement from Mark LaCroix.