Lana del Rey’s “Tropico” review

Kelsey Keranen

 by Kelsey Keranen

Lana del Rey, Shaun Ross and a unicorn walk into the Garden of Eden.

Thus begins the epileptic explosion of color and sin that was Lana del Rey’s “Tropico.”


Lana del Rey, California-born indie/baroque musician, released her long-awaited short film “Tropico” December 5, directed by Anthony Mandler.  “Tropico” was first announced by del Rey in July, and was going to be the closing of her “Born to Die” era and would supposedly tell a “tale of sin and redemption.”  It was teased through a variety of trailers posted to del Rey’s YouTube page, to the excitement of many fans.  As an avid fan of Lana del Rey myself, I had been anxiously refreshing the LDR Vevo the night before the release, my excitement mounting as the clock ticked closer to the epitomal moment when I could at last appreciate the film in all its glory.


When at last the play button appeared beneath my cursor and the campy purple-blue waves rolled across my laptop screen, I was prepared for nothing less than the best – and I was met with no disappointment.


The film, no doubt, was beautiful; the hazy lighting, the pixelated purply color scheme, the melee of 80s-inspired scenery – it all pulled together to create one gorgeous mess of pleasing aesthetics.  However, the video should’ve come with some sort of epilepsy warning – the constantly shifting scenes, some with flashing lights and fast-moving colors, were hardly bearable even for myself.  The filming technique itself certainly wasn’t my favorite, but anything for the name of art, right?


Additionally, del Rey’s original poetry was wonderful – it was dark and foreboding but at the same time sweet and innocent.  It was obviously Lana’s and was deeply reminiscent of her music, melding seamlessly with the homage to Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl;” “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness/ starving hysterical naked…”  The poetry and the selected pieces of del Rey’s (including “Body Electric,” “Bel Air,” and “Gods and Monsters”) made the film’s audio my automatic favorite.  Her acting, too, although there was little of it between the musical numbers and poetry recitations, proved to be just as good as her singing.


Despite some slight absurdities, i/e the holy couple ascending into the air in a Grease-esque end scene and the unlikely quartet (Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jesus, and John Wayne) chilling in the Garden of Eden, I was ultimately impressed by the film’s concluding meaning.  Del Rey, who plays a wayward Eve, is tricked into dirtying her soul and spends her life gallivanting through the city of angels with her slightly disconcerting Adam.  Upon the film’s finale (the aforementioned holy ascension) the duo strip themselves of their impurities (in this case, black clothing) and don the white garb of spiritual cleanliness.


However, this film isn’t for everyone – it’s explicit for a reason, kids.  Trippy scenes, skeevy businessmen, violent shootings and sad-looking strippers frequent the film.  Think twice before watching “Tropico” if any of the latter will prove bothersome to your well being.

“Tropico” was pretty sweet, as far as music-centered campy films with purple and blue color schemes go.  If you’re feeling the whole cowboys and unicorns hanging out in the Garden of Eden thing, or you just really love Lana del Rey (because let’s be honest, we all love Lana del Rey), set aside a little part of your break for this really weird yet strangely beautiful and satisfying short film.