At last night’s premiere of “Tropico,” Lana Del Rey announced that the short film is the final project for her 2012 breakthrough album “Born To Die” and that she’ll release follow-up record “Ultraviolence” sometime next year. The new album title comes the book-turned-film “A Clockwork Orange,” one of few references missing from the symbolism overload of “Tropico.” Watch it here or below.
“Tropico” opens in the Garden of Eden with Del Rey as Eve and model Shaun Ross as Adam, plus Jesus, John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and a unicorn. It quickly turns into a music video for “Body Electric,” which fits the original sin theme pretty well. Once Del Rey bites into the apple though, all hell breaks loose and we fast-forward to a dystopian Los Angeles where she’s working as a stripper and Ross is a convenient store clerk.
Before “Gods and Monsters” begins, Del Rey rips off some great poets — including Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg — and whispers their words (and a few of her own) as scenes reveal that she’s a lousy pole dancer, Ross is a criminal and they’re hanging in the Latino gang crowd. That’s about as much of a narrative as we get.
Redemption arrives in the final scene as Del Rey and Ross cruise into a golden field in a sea green Bel Air, with John Wayne reciting a speech about America. Naturally, the song “Bel Air” kicks in and we watch as the couple becomes transformed from black-clothed sinners to white-wearing saints. Wayne serenades them into heaven with the classic “Always on My Mind.”
Director Anthony Mandler’s work is really the star of the film — especially in the shots of L.A. and the finale — so if you don’t like Del Rey’s music, at least watch it on mute.