Thai Censors: ‘Shakespeare Must Die’ Must Die

The AP says:

Thailand’s film censors have banned an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” saying it could inflame political passions in the country where it is taboo to criticize the monarchy.

The Thai-language film “Shakespeare Must Die” tells the story of a theater group in a fictional country resembling Thailand that is staging a production of “Macbeth,” in which an ambitious general murders his way to the Scottish throne.

One of the film’s main characters is a dictator named “Dear Leader,” who resembles former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose ouster in a 2006 coup sparked years of political turmoil between his supporters and critics.

Censors at the Culture Ministry issued a brief memo Tuesday saying that the film could not be distributed in Thailand because it “has content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation.” The memo did not specify which scenes were deemed offensive.

But, Ing K., the film’s director, said the censorship committee objected to anti-monarchy overtones in the film as well as politically charged content, including a scene based on an iconic photo from Bangkok’s 1976 student uprising showing a demonstrator being lynched.

“The committee questioned why we wanted to bring back violent pain from the past to make people angry,” Ing K. said in an interview Wednesday. The censors also disliked the attire of a murderer in the film, who wore a bright red hooded cloak – the same color worn by the pro-Thaksin demonstrators known as the “Red Shirts.”

The director called the ruling “absurd” and a reflection of the fear in Thai society.

Reuters reports:

Censors in Thailand have banned a film based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Macbeth’, saying it could cause divisions in the country where an uneasy truce persists after several years of sometimes bloody upheaval and political polarization.

A trailer for the film, directed by Ing Kanjanavanit, shows scenes from Thailand’s recent past, including a 1973 crackdown on student protesters and street clashes in 2010 between the military and anti-government 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 late on Tuesday. “The film is grouped under films that are not allowed to be distributed in the Kingdom.”

The WSJ‘s Scene Asia says:

“Shakespeare Must Die,” a new Thai film that bills itself as a Shakespearean horror movie, tells the story of a dictator who suppresses a local staging of “Macbeth.”

But in a case of life imitating art, the Thai government — which partially funded the movie — has banned it, saying its content “causes divisiveness among the people of the nation.”

Directed by Ing K, or Samanrat Kanjanavanit, and produced by “Pink Man” artist Manit Sriwanichpoom, “Shakespeare Must Die” is based on the Scottish Play, with “some cinematic and Thai cultural adaptations,” according to a director’s statement.

And:

Shakespeare “is barely heard of in Thailand,” its website says, “a country that is actually living through Shakespearean times.”

The film’s official trailer, embedded above, is on YouTube here.

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal, based in New Delhi. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I read, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. Join the growing group of readers who get my weekly email newsletter.

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