BEIJING — William Shakespeare’s bloody themes of ambition, greed and hunger for power in “Macbeth” struck too close to home in Thailand. Thai censors have banned a movie based on the play for fear for divisions in the southeast Asian nation riven by years of bloody upheaval.
Helmer Ing Kanjanavanit’s “Shakespeare Must Die” tells a tale of a theater group in a fictional country, similar to Thailand, staging a production of “Macbeth.”
The movie features scenes including a crackdown on student protesters in the 1970s and violent street clashes in 2010 between the military and anti-government Red Shirt demonstrators in which 91 died.
“The film ‘Shakespeare Must Die’ has content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation,” the Film Censorship Board said in a statement. “The film is grouped under films that are not allowed to be distributed in the kingdom.”
Thailand has been divided since a 2006 coup that toppled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is now in exile after being convicted of corruption. His sister Yingluck, whom Thaksin described as his “clone,” now runs the country, but she is believed to be preparing a way for him to return.
The movie was the last one to receive support from a Culture Ministry fund under the previous government of Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Anything that involves monarchy is a highly sensitive issue in Thailand. The ailing 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej is regarded as semi-divine and criticism of the monarchy can be met with charges of lese-majeste, which carry up to 15 years in jail.