Exclusive: Lana Del Rey’s ‘National Anthem’ Director Tells All

Director Anthony Mandler talks to MTV News about Del Rey and A$AP Rocky's controversial new clip, which has them playing JFK and Jackie O.

Ever since Anthony Mandler wrapped production on [artist id=”4067329″]Lana Del Rey[/artist]’s “National Anthem” video a month ago, he has spent just about every day trying to avoid talking about it … mostly because he knew there’d be no shortage of folks doing just that when the clip premiered.

After all, the video — which premiered Wednesday (June 27) and features Del Rey in dual Jacqueline Kennedy/Marilyn Monroe roles and [artist id=”4096070″]A$AP Rocky[/artist] as John F. Kennedy — was seemingly destined to create conversation, if not controversy. But now that it’s finally been unveiled, he’s weighing in on the social and political contexts of the clip (from Portugal, via Skype) to MTV News.

“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.”

Of course, building off that archetype, the “National Anthem” video takes the socially charged stance of re-imagining the main characters as an interracial couple. It was a decision that was bound to raise some eyebrows, which, according to Mandler, was precisely the point.

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