NPR interviews Martin Scorsese about his latest film Silence, which takes place in 17th century Japan and tells the story of the persecution of Christians at the time.
Scorsese says he related the need for compassion at the center of the story to a more recent time in history. “I kept thinking to when I was about 8 years old. It was the height of the Cold War, beginning 1950. And I remember the Korean War very well, and I remember the soldiers who were POWs who supposedly were ‘brainwashed,’ who gave in, so to speak. And when they came back they were treated like pariahs and traitors. … It made you feel as if they had lost their souls, that they were walking zombies in a way — moral wastelands. But shouldn’t there be compassion for that person? Instead of saying, you know: I prefer people who don’t get caught; and then if they do get caught, I prefer people who don’t give in. Can you stand that test? How can you judge another person when you haven’t gone through that test yourself?”
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