Moving Pictures: Lana Del Rey

To celebrities and anyone in the public eye – “Image is everything”. This has never been truer than in today’s world. What with social networking and the omnipresent, all-powerful media.

Regarding recording artists, music videos are one of the major ways they are represented and depicted. Music videos are able to define an artist and characterise them in a certain manner. This depiction is not influenced by online opinions or what the media decides to portray.

In my opinion, the music videos of singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, all deserve to be individually analysed and discussed, as each is complex – in terms of visuals, narrative, symbolism and so much more. However, for the sake of comparison and general study, this post is concerned with six of her most popular music videos:

• Video Games
• Born to Die
• Blue Jeans
• Summertime Sadness
• National Anthem
• Young and Beautiful

Video Games


Directed and edited by Lana Del Rey herself, this video is a mixture of her singing into the camera and clips of archive footage. Wearing little make-up, she sings sombrely into the camera with her hair worn casually down.

Many of the clips interspersed throughout the video have an aged appearance. The footage seems to flow with a natural narrative, as certain clips carry throughout the video. Images of Americana, old Hollywood and summertime can be seen.

The video conveys a sense of care-free summer love and joy. Yet, it also comments on the ‘darker’ side of fame and Hollywood as the paparazzi feature greatly in the video.

Born to Die


Beginning and ending with Lana Del Rey and her punk lover standing naked before an American flag, this video tells the story of a couple’s road to death.

Lana, flanked by tigers, sings in a grand cathedral. Images of death are found throughout the video, Lana and her lover gesture ‘throat slitting’ and to the end her lover stands with her bloody, lifeless body in his arms.


Bloody death

The video speaks of enjoying life while one can, as everyone dies eventually.

Blue Jeans


Featuring the same punk lover as in Born to Die, this video, shot in black and white, depicts the ending of a relationship. A pool is the major motif with the lovers moving through the water surrounded by crocodiles.
The video contains themes of ‘life’, including: sex (fellatio), religion (baptism) and death (drowning).


Sexual innuendo

In the video the crocodiles symbolise the potential dangers of the relationship and Lana’s death by drowning, represents the end of it. However, the punk lover once again supports her lifeless body, conveying the love he had for her.

Summertime Sadness


This video, with an aged appearance, depicts the love between two friends. It is also concerned with death.

After the suicide of her friend Lana expresses sadness, and as a result takes her own life as well. An image of Jesus on the cross parallels the pose Lana has when jumping to her death, implying the sacrifice she makes.

The video ends with Lana walking towards the camera with her ‘spirit’ alongside her.

National Anthem


The video tells the story of JFK’s assassination and the relationship he and his wife had. Lana plays Jackie O and the president is played by rapper, A$AP Rocky. Central to the video is a day at the family’s beach house, with depictions of parties and intimate moments between Lana and the president.

The video depicts a loving family who seem to have it all. However, this is shattered by the president’s assassination. Thereafter, Lana is lonely, stating – “I need somebody to hold me”.

The video ends with eternal love. The president is dead, but Lana says, “And I still love him, I love him”.

Young and Beautiful


The song and video asks the question, whether love remains after youth and beauty fades.

Lana is shown walking towards multiple mirrors, which towards the end fade in the light, implying the mortality of beauty. Shots of a conductor leading his orchestra are also to be found in the video.


Reflected beauty

The video demonstrates a beautiful use of light and shadow. The light which falls on the orchestra varies, it’s red in parts and blue in others; the moving shadows of orchestra members are also shown.


Throughout this range of music videos, common motifs and images come up. Examples include:

The American flag:
• Video Games
• Born to Die
• National Anthem

Wild animals:
• Born to Die (tigers)
• Blue Jeans (crocodiles)
• National Anthem (a lion rug)

Aged appearance of videos:
• Video Games
• Summertime Sadness
• National Anthem
• Young and Beautiful

These videos all serve to characterise Lana as unique, compared to most pop artists in the music industry. With her old Hollywood and Americana appeal Lana Del Rey is an alternative singer who – based on her music videos – is deserving of the title ‘artist’.


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