Thailand bans film based on "Macbeth", fearing disunity

Wed Apr 4, 2012 5:08am EDT
 
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By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

BANGKOK (Reuters) - 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."

'Macbeth' is the story of a power-hungry general in ancient Scotland who kills the king for his throne, and commits more murders to hold onto it.

Themes of greed and power could touch a raw nerve among Thais who have been divided since the run-up to a 2006 coup that toppled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. He is adored by the rural masses, but detested by royalists and Bangkok's elite.

Thaksin and some of his supporters have been accused of republican leanings, charges they deny.

Anything that involves monarchy is a highly sensitive issue in Thailand. 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.

That does not appear to be the trouble with the film, which was the last one to receive support from a Culture Ministry fund under the previous government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, an opponent of Thaksin.   Continued...