MOTW: Best Quotes from "The Departed"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
April 17th, 2013

MOTW: Best Quotes from "The Departed"

-- The Martin Scorsese epic "The Departed" was released to critical acclaim in 2006, grossing close to $27 million during its opening weekend and more than $285 million overall. It made the top-ten list of many publications as one of the best movies of the year, and was nominated in 2008 to receive a place on the AFI list of Top 10 Gangster Films.

The movie takes place in South Boston where law enforcement officials are in the middle of an all-out war against the Irish-American Mafia. A young officer, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is chosen to go undercover and infiltrate the local crime syndicate led by gangster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). His mission is to gather enough evidence so that the police can finally arrest Costello. Meanwhile, Costello has sent Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) undercover into the state police to act as an informant for the bad guys. He quickly gains recognition and works his way up the ladder in the Special Investigation Unit.

Much of the story revolves around these two men immersing themselves in their new lives, gathering information to bring back to their superiors, and trying to keep their relationships alive. Eventually, however, both the syndicate and the police figure out that they each have an informant in their midst. In order to avoid being exposed, both men must try to figure out who the other informant is.

In the movie, Frank Costello is seen by many as the Irish Godfather. Unless you were on his side, he was someone to be feared. On the other hand, he was also greatly respected by his own men. The relationship between Frank Costello and Colin Sullivan started at an early age. Frank groomed Colin to take over his role as an informant. Although Costello also jumps in as a father figure to Costigan, it is Sullivan who calls him "Dad".

Some of the movie's best quotes come directly from conversations between Costello and Sullivan. In one conversation when Colin is young, Costello asks him, "You do well in school?" When Sullivan answers in the affirmative, Costello replies, "Good. So did I. They call that a paradox." The two have different views of education. Sullivan believes you learn what you need to know while in school. Costello, ever the wise one, counsels him that education and learning never ends.

As he continues to counsel and groom Sullivan, he imparts even more of his wisdom when he tells him, "When you decide to be something, you can be it. That's what they don't tell you in the church. When I was your age, they would say we can become cops or criminals. Today, what I'm saying to you is this: when you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?"

Costello also exposes his views of the world around him to Sullivan when he says, "I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me."

Although he's a very smart man, Sullivan has yet to develop the wisdom of his mentor. His obsession with his Irish roots is obvious in many of his conversations. One of the movie's most classic lines is when Sullivan says to psychiatrist Madolyn (Vera Farmiga), "What Freud said about the Irish is we're the only people who are impervious to psychoanalysis."

In another conversation with her, he states, "If we're not gonna make it, it's gotta be you that gets out, cause I'm not capable. I'm...Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life."

While this movie was undoubtedly the biggest commercial success of Scorsese's career, most people would hesitate to say it was his best, as he tends to produce at least one blockbuster every decade. His films tend to bear that out with the success of "Taxi Driver" in 1976, "Raging Bull" in 1980, and "Goodfellas" in 1990. Despite his previous successes, "The Departed" was the first film to win Scorsese an Oscar. As Scorsese puts it, it was also his first film that actually had a plot.

In fact, the film walked away with four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Mark Wahlberg was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, although he didn't take home the prize. "The Departed" won 62 awards in addition to the Oscars, as well as another 62 nominations.

The movie's star-studded cast included more acclaimed actors than DiCaprio, Nicholson, Damon, and Wahlberg. Martin Sheen played the role of Queenan, Ray Winstone did an awesome job at portraying bad guy Mr. French, Alec Baldwin played Ellerby, and Kevin Corrigan took on the role of Cousin Sean.