Artist Lana Del Rey released a thought-provoking, patriotic video for her latest single “National Anthem.” Joined by rapper A$AP Rocky as President John F. Kennedy, Lana acts as his wife Jackie Onassis and the video takes us on a journey of their love story, as well as, the re-enactment of JFK’s assassination in 1963. The visuals were directed by Anthony Mandler, who recently spoke about the making of and concept stating, “You see why I held back on talking about it; I didn’t want to spoil anything. Anytime you’re dealing with the American Camelot of the Kennedys, you’re dealing with a packed powder keg,” he said. “And really, what Lana was trying to do — this was her concept, she came to me with it, and I kind of dug it out with her — was really look and explore an archetype; just like Shakespeare wrote ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and that became the archetype of the forbidden love story.”
“And I think the Kennedy relationship, certainly the triangle of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie O and Jack Kennedy, became this kind of ideal of what seemed perfect from the outside was maybe rotting from the inside,” he continued. “And Lana was really interested in exploring this loss of innocence, this idea that what you think you’re experiencing is maybe not what it’s always going to be. Because when you say ‘Kennedy,’ that immediately evokes something, just like when I say ‘It’s a Romeo and Juliet story.’ So I think using that power, that pedigree of the story is a really fascinating place to show the loss of something, the breakdown of something.”
“We used the Kennedy framework to kind of implement this new Camelot, this racially diverse Camelot, this maybe socially diverse Camelot … bringing it into the modern era, but still keeping that classic framework,” he explained. “There’s a kind of micro-commentary of ‘This is the new royalty,’ you know, A$AP and Lana, trying to pick two people to maybe represent the next generation of something. I think even with an African American president, it’s still controversial to see him sitting and playing JFK, it’s still taboo, even if it shouldn’t be. You’re kind of like ‘Is this right or wrong? This feels very right, but also feels very wrong at the same time.’ And I think in all of Lana’s songs, and her image in general, and the person she is, it all fits in. It’s kind of like there are two sides of a mirror, and you’re not sure which side you’re looking at.”
“We didn’t want it to be a mockery. How many artists and rappers and singers have you seen running around in badly fitted suits, acting like the president? And I think it may have worked with other people to mock, but that was not what we wanted; we want this to be very serious,” he said. “The whole movie kind of hedges on the gunshot, it hedges on that close-up of the hand when the gunshot happens, and you don’t see anything violent. What you’re used to seeing with the Zapruder film, is this very kind of violent, destructive act; I didn’t want to go anywhere near that.
“It was never about re-creating a death scene, it was always about the person sitting next to him,” he continued. “It was always about seeing it through her eyes, seeing this kind of castle crumble in the moment, and that shot where she’s coming up out of the car, and the pain in her eyes, that destruction, it’s like the whole castle is crumbling around her. That’s what we were going for.” Watch the cinematic clip below…