Censors in Thailand have banned a film adaptation of Macbeth called Shakespeare Must Die because of fears it could cause further division among people.

The film, directed by Ing Kanjanavanit, is a set in fictional country but shows scenes from Thailand's troubled past, including the 1973 crackdown on student protesters and street clashes in 2010 between the military and anti-government demonstrators, which left 91 dead.

The narrative of Shakespeare's tragedy involves Scottish general Macbeth killing the King of Scotland to claim the throne for himself.

The themes of greed and power appear to have unnerved officials in a country where there have been intermittent protests since the 2006 coup, which removed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office.

The film censorship board said in a statement: "The film Shakespeare Must Die has content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation.

"The film is grouped under films that are not allowed to be distributed in the kingdom."

Manit Sriwanichpoom, the film's producer, said he believed the censors were "overreacting" in banning the film.

"We don't aim to harass anyone. It's not the theme of the film. We want to present human morality and principles," he told AFP. "In my opinion, everyone has basic characteristics like Macbeth, who abuses his power."

The colour red is prominent throughout the film and was the colours worn by pro-Shinawatra supporters, known as "red shirts".

Kanjanavanit defended her use of the colour.

"Red is the universal colour for killer. In Thai soap operas the bad guys wear red, so why am I not allowed to use it?" she told Reuters.

"Did Thaksin affect my life? Absolutely. In this sense the film is a political one, but we also wanted to bring Shakespeare to a Thai audience.

"We made a Shakespearean film because we are living through Shakespearean times. People find the truth in fictional form threatening."

Criticism of the monarchy in Thailand can result in a 15-year jail sentence.

Watch the trailer below: