Q: Capturing the postwar elements of Germany is done so poignantly and heartbreakingly in both the book and the movie. The story was, at least, not one many Americans know about or understand. As an English filmmaker, how did you prepare to express those elements and emotions?

A: I think that you have to fight the idea that everything that happened in the camps was committed by a separate category of people who are monsters. That's hard to explain to an American audience with no history of an extreme dictatorial regime. Americans have been a democracy since its founding. In such circumstances, people do things that wouldn't otherwise do. Perfectly ordinary people get taken up and involved in events that rightly appall and sicken you. But they're not committed by separate group of people. Ordinary people become part of the killing machine, partly to save their own lives. There are an awful lot of people who live under a dictatorship who are caught up in that machine and do things they wouldn't otherwise do. Countries that haven't experienced that can be quite naïve when a country is taken over by such rule. It would be comforting to believe that war crimes are only created by monsters. I do think that the complexity of Kate Winslet's performance in that role is something people respond to. While you watch the film, you go through a hundred different feelings. You're being horrified, and then you feel close to her and feel some sympathy for her.


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