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The Departed Rat

Published October 5, 2006 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros Pictures.
The Departed The Departed
This isn’t really a spoiler, but if you’re a cinematography buff, stop reading until you’ve seen The Departed. After all the chaos of cops and moles and betrayal, the film ends on a shot of a rat walking across a scaffold. Perhaps the metaphor is surprisingly obvious for a Martin Scorsese film.

Martin Scorsese Talks The Departed Rat

“I've worked on it a lot, that last shot,” said Scorsese. “It's an interesting thing, when I got to the end of the script, and I took a long time reading it too, about three and a half hours, and that was time to get to that plot point. There's some plot issues. But it had to do with the way the characters were interacting and the dialogue that Bill [Monahan] had in there. The attitude that was in there and the stance against the world that they had, particularly not only the main characters but the parts played by Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin. And then Bill had written, he had written the phrase, saying, as written, ‘And then a strange thing happens, comma, a rat comes out and starts to eat the croissants.’ And I said, ‘That's really strange, that's interesting, and then the rat comes out and it's like a comment a little bit from I don't know what you would call it. It really isn't meant to be literal, but it's a comment from the filmmakers on the subject matter.”

Training a rat is an entirely different matter. “This is the nature of filmmaking, and then when you try to interpret, and then a strange thing happens on film, one runs into difficulty because the rat comes in from the left, no, no, suddenly, it all looks like, no it looks too literal, why isn't poetic like he wrote it? And it took me a while, we took a while on that shot, ultimately it's the nature of, well, without giving out the story, it's what's in the beginning of the frame and then as the rat is revealed, it's the image of the statehouse itself, the gold dome, the sense of, for me, a throwback of the old gangster genre films at the end of Scarface, the world is yours. Tony Montana is shot in the street, there's a shot, a shot of a sign in the movie that says ‘The world is yours,’ I think the end of Little Caesar is the same way, so for me, or the end of White Heat. ‘Mom, on the top of the world,’ well the top of the world to him was that Beacon Hill and in a sense the gold dome of the statehouse was near it, represents that.”

Don’t worry, if you haven’t been to film school, you can still appreciate the rat. “It also represents that for me as the film developed a sense of paranoia and betrayal and one person never knowing who the other person is or what the other person is doing or if you can believe anybody. It kind of reflects the world now, the America that we know now, post September 11th. And so all those elements are in there, but first on an entertainment level as a reference back to the old gangster genre.”

The Departed opens tomorrow, October 6th.

For the trailer, posters, more interviews, stills and more movie info, go to The Departed Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros Pictures.

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