Court cites national security to extend ‘Shakespeare’ ban

Some of the crew of Shakespeare Must Die stage a rally in front of Government House in 2012. They called for the government to end the banning of films altogether because it hinders the development of the Thai film industry. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Administrative Court yesterday rejected the complaint filed by the filmmakers of Shakespeare Must Die in which they asked for the ban on the film to be lifted, thereby extending a ban that has already lasted five years.

The court cited the film’s re-enactment of the Oct 6, 1976 incident as the reason for its decision, citing national security concerns.

The film, made by Ing K and Manit Sriwanichpoom, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, set in Thailand, and features a maniacal ruler and his murderous wife. The climax of the film however re-creates the violence of Oct 6, 1976, including the notorious episode in which a man beats up a corpse with a chair.

“It’s strange because if you Google about Oct 6, you get all these images. On YouTube there are videos of the incidents too,” said Manit, one of the filmmakers. “They’re images available to the public.”

Shakespeare Must Die (or Shakespeare Tong Tie) was made in 2012 and banned by the Culture Ministry’s censorship board on grounds that it may “cause disunity among the people”.

“There’s a lot of talk about democracy, and I don’t know how our film is undemocratic,” Manit said back in 2012.

Since the ban was enacted, the film travelled to screen at many international film festivals. The filmmakers also made another film called Censors Must Die, a documentary recording their fight to get the film screened. They didn’t submit it for approval, only showing it at private screenings.

Shakespeare Must Die runs for 178 minutes and was partly funded by the Culture Ministry under the 2010 Thai Khem Khaeng stimulus scheme.

Manit said he would appeal.

This is the second ruling by the Administrative Court on banned movies. In 2015, it ruled Insect in the Backyard could screen if a graphic sex scene was removed.

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