Lana Del Rey – “Born To Die video

As was mentioned in the two previous reviews of Lana Del Rey’s videos “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”, Lana mania has been building up in the blogosphere for quite some time as the world awaits the imminent release of her album Born To Die.  In the meantime, a constrained Lana warbled through a couple of disappointing performances on Saturday Night Live that was blamed on badly jangled nerves.  It was strange to behold because Lana seems to be coolly collected at other shows that are viewable at YouTube. Granted, there wasn’t the pressure of millions of people watching her on live TV…

On the studio version of the compellingly languorous “Born To Die”, Lana sings-talks with a regretful, melancholic, mid-register Stevie Nicks-like style with a knowing finality to her phrases that fits with the bleak lyrics of “Sometimes love is not enough…” and “…you and I / We were born to die.”  Her restless vocals swoop and droop, riding along with the poignant flow of symphonic strings.  Contrasted with this sumptuous sweep of orchestration is the steady metal clang of industrial percussion, a hip-hop backdrop of occasionally exclaimed male vocals, and Lana’s blunt lyrics of “Let’s go get high.”

Lana’s video for “Born To Die” is a melodramatic opus directed by Yoann Lemoine, AKA Woodkid.  The video is a cinematic narrative that unspools like a super-condensed movie – a glamorous death wish ode to tragic romance and doomed youth.  The camera homes in on Lana as she regally sits amid baroque opulence, like a queen on her throne, with the addition of two live tigers by her side, in what looks like the Royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles.

Lana as narrator recounts the all-American, star-crossed love story between a “poor little rich girl”, played by Lana, and a “bad boy” from the wrong side of the tracks.  She flees her home in order to meet up with him and they retreat to his vintage Ford Mustang, kissing and smoking in the shadows of the night.   A patriotic theme is revealed in the colors of Lana’s outfit – red high tops, white fringed jacket, and blue jean cut-offs. The video is bookended by the couple holding each other in their arms, standing in front of an American flag.

Brief images surface and fade, displaying Lana as an innocent captive in her gilded domicile.  She is sheathed in a white slip, confined in a luxurious bedroom, dreaming of her lover who appears to her in fleeting glimpses.  Foreboding foreshadowing builds through the story, with cues like Lana’s lover pointing his fingers like a gun to her head and, in Lana’s mind, her seeing him laying beside her with his hand resting on her throat.

The story, this rhapsody about a tragedy, rolls along to its foregone conclusion, as the love-crazed pair make their escape by car, Lana gazing fatalistically at her guy behind the wheel, as he drives recklessly fast and, bathed in a lurid red light, plants a final, fatal kiss on Lana’s lips…

The aftermath of the crash is pretty horrific, with Lana’s man holding her lifeless, covered-in-blood body in his arms against a fiery backdrop of mangled metal.  Symbolically, however, at least from what the video shows, Lana is at last granted her wish to be free, as she expectantly walks along the gilded and marbled halls of her home and opens a door, releasing a flood of brilliant light as she steps out of her previous life.

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