Shakespeare Must Die

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Shakespeare Must Die
Directed by Ing Kanjanavanit
Produced by Manit Sriwanichpoom
Running time
176 minutes[1]
Country Thailand
Language Thai

Shakespeare Must Die (Thai: เชคสเปียร์ต้องตาย) is a 2012 adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. It was directed by Ing Kanjanavanit.[2] The Thai government banned the film, fearing it would cause societal disunity.[3][4][5]

The Thai-language film tells the story of a theatre group in a fictional country resembling[citation needed] 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 bears a resemblance[citation needed] to former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup which sparked years of political turmoil between his supporters and critics.


Censors at the culture ministry issued a brief statement saying that the film could not be distributed in Thailand because it "has content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation". It did not specify which scenes were deemed offensive.

But Ing Kanjanavanit, 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 a photograph 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 said in an interview on Wednesday. The censors also disliked the attire of a murderer in the film, who wore a bright red hooded cloak – the same colour 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.

"I feel like we are heading to a very dark, dark place right now, a place full of fears and everyone has to be extra careful about what they say," she said, adding that the character resembling Thaksin could represent any leader accused of corruption and abuse of power.

"When Cambodians watch this they'll think it's Hun Sen. When Libyans watch it they would think it's Gaddafi."

Sensitivity over criticism of the monarchy has increased in recent years as the poor health of the country's 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej has raised concerns about a smooth succession. At the same time, sharp partisan political battles in the wake of the 2006 coup have unleashed unprecedented questioning of established institutions, including the palace.

Last year, the film board banned a movie about a transgender father struggling to raise two children, called Insects in the Backyard, saying it contained scenes that were immoral and pornographic.

Ing said she planned to appeal against the ban.

Documentary film about the controversy[edit]

A documentary film about the censorship and controversy surrounding the film called Censor Must Die was screened for the first time on June 1, 2013, at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). Manit Sriwanichpoom made a short speech prior to the screening which was attended by an audience of several hundred.


External links[edit]