Tropico (film)

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Tropico poster.png
Film poster
Directed byAnthony Mandler
Produced byHeather Heller
Written byLana Del Rey[1]
StarringLana Del Rey
Shaun Ross
Music byLana Del Rey
CinematographyDavid Devlin
Edited byJeff Selis
Release date
  • December 4, 2013 (2013-12-04)
(Hollywood, California)
December 5, 2013
Running time
27 minutes
CountryUnited States
Music video
"Tropico" on YouTube

Tropico is a short film "based on the Biblical story of sin and redemption", starring Lana Del Rey as Eve and Shaun Ross as Adam. Written by Del Rey and directed by Anthony Mandler, the film premiered at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California on December 4, 2013, before being uploaded to Del Rey's official Vevo account the following day. It features the songs "Body Electric", "Gods & Monsters", and "Bel Air", all taken from Del Rey's 2012 EP Paradise. An EP of the film's name was also released that same month to the iTunes Store; it includes the film itself along with the three aforementioned songs.


Chapter 1 – Body Electric[edit]

The movie starts out with Adam (Shaun Ross) and Eve (Del Rey) in the Garden of Eden. God (portrayed by a John Wayne character), Jesus, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley are all present with Adam and Eve – as "Body Electric" begins to play. The whole movie is intercut with scenes of Del Rey playing Jesus' mother Mary. At the end of the song, Eve – tempted by the snake – decides to eat an apple from Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. After she eats it, thunder strikes and she faints. Adam then decides to eat from the apple as well in order to join his lover. As a result of this, they are cast out of their "Paradise", the Garden of Eden.

Chapter 2 – Gods & Monsters[edit]

Del Rey then starts to recite Walt Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric" as time flash forwards to a modern-day Adam and Eve living in Los Angeles; Del Rey works as a stripper while Ross is a gang member who also works as a clerk at a convenience store during the day. In this segment – "Gods & Monsters" begins to play. After the song ends, Del Rey recites Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" as a group of wealthy middle aged men are seen surprising their friend on his birthday by bringing him strippers. A couple of minutes after the strippers enter the room, Ross and his gang suddenly show up with guns in hand and steal all their money.

Chapter 3 – Bel Air[edit]

God appears and begins to narrate John Mitchum's poem "Why I Love America" ("You ask me why I love her? Well, give me time. I'll explain. Have you seen a Kansas sunset, or an Arizona rain?"). The Adam and Eve characters then get in their car and end up driving to a country-side wheat field. Clips show the pair being baptised as they begin to undress. "Bel Air" then plays in the sunset. The two characters then ascend back into heaven, having finally redeemed themselves, as flying saucers appear in the sky.


Main cast

Production and release[edit]

Tropico was filmed in late June 2013; it was directed by Anthony Mandler, who also directed Del Rey's previous music videos for "National Anthem" and "Ride". Via social media platforms, Del Rey released several promotional images for the film, one depicting Del Rey in a mantilla as Mary, Mother of Jesus and another with Del Rey holding a snake and posing as Eve, the biblical wife of Adam from the Book of Genesis. In August 2013, Del Rey announced that the film would have two premieres: one at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles and one in an unspecified location in New York; she referred to the short film as a "farewell".[2] Critics noted that this contradicted other claims by Del Rey that she would release a third studio album, with a demo of the song "Black Beauty" leaking online. On November 22, 2013, an official trailer for Tropico was released; at the end of the trailer, it was announced that the film would be uploaded to Del Rey's official VEVO account on December 5, 2013.[3] On December 3, 2013, it was announced that the film would premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California, prior to its VEVO release.[4] Prior to playing the movie, Del Rey announced the title of her upcoming third album and explained to the audience what she meant when she said that the film is a "farewell", stating: "I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my [Born to Die/Paradise] chapter[s] before I release the new record, Ultraviolence".[5][6]


Tropico EP[edit]

Lana Del Rey - Tropico (EP).png
EP by
ReleasedDecember 6, 2013 (2013-12-06)
Lana Del Rey chronology
Born to Die: The Paradise Edition

Tropico is a 2013 digitally-released EP by Lana Del Rey, named after the short film of the same name in which she stars. The EP includes three tracks from her previously released Paradise EP, which feature in the film, and the film itself.[9]

Track listing
1."Body Electric"
  • Nowels
  • Dan Heath
2."Gods & Monsters"
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Tim Larcombe
3."Bel Air"
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Heath
4."Tropico"Lana Del ReyAnthony Mandler (Director)27:08


Upon release, Tropico received mostly positive reviews from critics. Jason Lipshutz of Billboard called the film "a work of overflowing, era-traversing passion" and called the climax of the film "pure bliss".[10] Under the Gun took issue with the "somewhat nonsensical" narration throughout the film, but said as a whole the film was "certainly something special".[11] Similarly, Jimmy So of The Daily Beast also criticized the film's narration and compared it to "a campy arthouse movie" and described Del Rey's videos to this point as being "starved of creativity".[12] In contrast, James Caterino of Examiner gave the film a 5-star review writing "The imagery is breathtaking and the voice-over narration so jam-packed with poetic prose that it sears into the soul... She is an artistic force who never fails to fascinate—and to make us feel".[13] In a slightly more critical but equally optimistic review, Sal Cinquemani of Slant added "It's obvious from the big bang that opens the film that Del Rey and Mandler have zero interest in subtlety, but interestingly, Del Rey doesn't position herself among the film's icons of Americana the way, say, Kanye West or Lady Gaga might. Instead, her work continues to serve as both a tribute to an imagined past and a critique of contemporary pop culture".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blistein, Jon (December 5, 2013). "Lana Del Rey Lets Sin and Symbolism Fly in 'Tropico'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  2. ^ Del Rey, Lana. "Tropico". Lana Del Rey. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  3. ^ Video on YouTube
  4. ^ "Tropico Premier". Lana Del Rey. 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  5. ^ "Lana Del Rey's 'Ultra-Violence' Album Announced At 'Tropico' Premiere". The Huffington Post. December 5, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Grow, Kory (December 5, 2013). "Lana Del Rey's New Album Is Called 'Ultra-Violence'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  7. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (June 12, 2014). "Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 16, 2014. ...the hip-hop-inflected baroque-pop of Born to Die and its follow-up EP, Paradise
  8. ^ "Review: Lana Del Rey's Born To Die – Paradise Edition". November 12, 2012.
  9. ^ "Tropico - Single by Lana Del Rey on iTunes". 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  10. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (December 5, 2013). "Lana Del Rey's 'Tropico': Watch The Daring Short Film In Full". Billboard. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  11. ^ Shotwell, James (December 5, 2013). "Short Film: Lana Del Rey - 'Tropico'". Under the Gun Review. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  12. ^ So, Jimmy (December 5, 2013). "Lana Del Rey's New Short Film 'Tropico' Is So Bad It Might Be Good". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Caterino, James (December 5, 2013). "Lana Del Rey captivates in arresting 'Tropico'". Examiner. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (December 5, 2013). "Review: Lana Del Rey's Short Film, Tropico". Slant. Retrieved January 28, 2014.

External links[edit]