In 2006 Martin Scorsese finally became an Academy Award winning director when he took home the gold for The Departed, which also won the best picture award. But we’re not here to talk about how great a film The Departed was or what a stellar cast it had or that Scorsese’s Oscar had been long overdue. Instead we’re uncovering a little hidden treat that the director placed in the movie for eagle eyed viewers, an easter egg if you will. You see in The Departed, the fate of all the main characters was clearly spelled out, using one little letter.

The DepartedJack Nicholson [L] and Leonardo DiCaprio [R] in The Departed

In 1932 director Howard Hawks released gangster classic Scarface, a masterpiece of its time which would be remade in 1983 by Brian De Palma and starring Al Pacino. In the movie Hawks uses an ‘x’ motif throughout, usually implying that a character will die. The most prominent example being the x shaped scar on the cheek of Tony Camonte. Inspired by Hawks and wanting to pay homage to the 1932 movie, Scorsese borrowed the x idea for The Departed, as his subtle way of showing which characters might not make it to the end of the movie.

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There are at least 15 examples of the x motif being used in The Departed, there could be more, but at last count that’s how many we came across. Examples include, an x design on the window when Sullivan stands on the balcony at the beginning of the movie. Then when Queenan falls to his death, taped x’s can be clearly seen on the building’s windows. Also, in the airport which Costigan visits, there are peaty of x’s woven into the interior design. But our favourite might be that tiled floor Sullivan walks through near the end of the movie, now that one had to be on purpose ,no one would pick that floor design.

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Hopefully your mind has been suitably blown by this information and Scorsese’s genius. If you had no idea about The Departed’s little hidden extras then why not go back and watch the movie and see how many x’s you can spot, if you get more than 15, then you’ve beaten us. Happy hunting!