Death and the Sleepy Maiden

For the record, I love Lana Del Rey’s song “Born to Die.” The romantic balderdash does nothing for this little black duck, but the music and vocals are dark and foreboding, somber, yet soothing to the point of being soporific. Why this chick’s album has received such vitriolic reviews is anyone’s guess. Mine (guess, not review) is that the critics are pissed off that yet another artist has made it to where they themselves want to be. Or maybe they’ve watched her videos….

As the video for “Born to Die” opens we are regaled with an image of the singer and a heavily tattooed man standing in front of an American flag. This means either that the song is about the death of American power, or that being sleepy is patriotic. A more practical explanation is that it was the cheapest background they could find. So far, if not so good, then not too bad either. Now we cut to the inside of what appears to be a sumptuously adorned chapel inside a French palace, and we see a mellowed out Lana sitting on what appears to be a throne. The first sign that something is amiss is that the singer seems to be wearing a crumpled shower curtain on her head. The second is that for some inexplicable reason there are two very bored-looking tigers in the room. Perhaps the tigers have taken poor Lana’s reviews too seriously and are instead depressed, or perhaps they and the singer are engaged in a contest to see who can fall asleep first. Is there religious symbolism here? Does the shower curtain stand in for a crown of thorns? It would certainly explain why Lana looks so despondent, but why the tigers? Aren’t those things Indian? Maybe there’s some sort of statement being made about how both Christianity and Hinduism are ultimately false systems of belief that lead only to a weltschmerz so profound that even their animal adherents start looking as if they need therapy. This interpretation, unlikely as it may seem at first blush, appears to be supported in the lyric “Feet don’t fail me now,” no doubt signifying the singer’s need to run from the chapel as soon as she can be bothered to get up.

Now we cut to an external scene where we find, against a background of storm clouds, Lana and the dude with the tats trying to copulate on the bonnet of a car. As neither of them has remembered to take off their pants, the whole thing goes badly and soon they are inside the car getting stoned. Meanwhile the chapel version of  Lana starts to look uncomfortable, rolling her eyes and squirming around like someone who has just realized she is wearing a shower curtain on her head. The tigers for their part look in danger of winning the contest by virtue of becoming comatose. Further scenes show our sleepy heroine and her paramour setting out on a road trip. Soon things become ominous. The fatalistic theme hinted at in the storm clouds is echoed in shots of Lana’s bit of rough making slashing motions across his throat while the couple hang out in some expensive-looking hotel rooms. How our trailer park-spawned twosome can afford such luxurious accommodations I don’t know — perhaps one of them has just been given a big fat advance on her next album.

Now the pair is back on the road, looking estranged ( the couple, not the road,) and Chapel Lana is starting to look chagrined, perhaps to hint at the ultimate fate of Road Trip Lana, or perhaps because she has lost the contest to one of the tigers, who now seems to be soundly asleep. Finally, unwilling to suffer the indignities of wearing shower curtains and being mocked by triumphant tigers, Chapel Lana seems to have abdicated the throne and is wandering the palace corridors in darkness, and if that doesn’t augur badly for Road Trip Lana I don’t know what does. And sure enough, the next shot is of the aforementioned maiden lying, bloodied and pieta-like, in the arms of her tattooed lover as the wreckage of their car burns in the background. Fade to black…

Then we return to the first shot of Lana and tattoo guy in front of the flag, as if the whole thing is a nightmare on a loop, like reading one crap review after another. But not from this writer — so cheer up honey, have a donut or something, and next time don’t forget to wear a seat belt.

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