Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trying to license 'Killing An Arab' for a film

Update: And the trailer uses 'The Caterpillar'. (Thanks spiralcure)

Writer/Director Marina Person recounts her struggle to get the rights to use 'Killing An Arab' in her new film,  'Califórnia':

Most tricky in Person’s long quest to curate the perfect soundtrack was securing the rights to The Cure’s “Killing an Arab.” The song, inspired by Camus’ “The Stranger,” has been mired in controversy since its release, due to racist misinterpretations of the song’s lyrics. Because in “Califórnia” it accompanies a particularly moving sequence and helps to define a major character, Person reached out to The Cure’s people before filming to receive tentative permission to use the song. However, by the time she was in post-production months later, and had the cash to secure the rights, she was greeted with an altogether different reaction.

“The answer was like, ‘What?! You cannot use it! What?! Who told you you could? You know [Cure frontman] Robert Smith wants to forget he wrote a song called “Killing an Arab.” ’ They were really upset,” she reveals, postulating that the Charlie Hebdo attacks may have rendered parties more wary of giving the go-ahead. Nonetheless, she did not give up.

“I said, ‘No, you know, you have to! I’m going to London and, like, go on strike. I’m going to do a hunger strike in front of Robert Smith’s house; he must let me use it!’ I was kind of desperate,” she recalls.

Following this rejection came a weeks-long process, during which Person scribed several extensive emails detailing her reasoning behind wanting to use the song, which found their way to Smith — who tried to convince Person to use a different Cure track in its place instead. After much debate and handwringing, she was eventually granted permission, which brought Person some much-needed relief. “I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I was totally obsessed with it.”

“Califórnia” screens Sat., Apr. 16 at 6 p.m., Mon., Apr. 18 at 9:15 p.m., and Fri., Apr. 22 at 7:15 p.m. at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave., at Vesey St.). Screens Thurs., Apr. 21 at 3:45 p.m. at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Visit or call 646-502-5296 for tickets ($20 plus $3.50 phone or web processing fee; $10 for the Apr. 21 matinee, plus processing). 

(Thanks @vegansang)


  1. This looks really good. Wish I could be in NYC in April... also Caterpillar is used in the trailer.

  2. I'm surprised to hear RS wants to forget he wrote the song but I suppose it was a very different world then as opposed to now. I remember that KAA was banned here in the UK for radio play during the first Gulf war and the invasion of Iraq a decade later. Hence the change in lyrics to Killing Another in later years.

  3. It's a pity that people are way too sensitive to actually let the song be a song or a piece of art or artistic piece however you wish to look at it. But alas we live in a world that makes people afraid to say what they want for fear of censorship or personal attacks. Obviously some people are afraid to actually research the songs origins so they take the title and assume the worst. Thanks belatedly to Tipper whore oops I meant Gore and the PMRC for all the "ART" censorhip in the world now. Maybe they should cover up david's junk too. Look out museums Tippers coming. Sorry for rant but the negativity surrounding such a great song so much so that it makes the writer wish he never wrote it is appalling. I could see if it was a spice girls song or katey Perry or her ilk but this is Robert fuckin Smith hands down one of the best songwriters ever.

  4. they've always played that song the shows it's always there. it annoyed me when it got changed to 'Killing Another', because it's like pandering to bullies [bullies who can't even read] i was really pleased when after a few years Robert just thought "fuck it" and changed it back to 'Killing An Arab' again. that was great.
    so i thought he was still proud of that song.
    does this mean we're not going to hear it anymore?
    has Robert really lost so much confidence in his own song?
    that's really terrible after all these years.
    they were still playing the song in 2014 - i can't believe that just the terrorist attacks in 2015 have now killed it.

  5. Surely he would be pretty awkward about anyone using the song and make them work a bit for, just to be sure it was for the right reasons, if it was used for the wrong reasons that really would kill it so pretty sure he still values the song but is just protecting his baby, so to speak x