The Story Behind The Trilogy
The Illusions Trilogy is based off of a short story by Del James called "Without You". The story is about a musician that deals with his personal demons after losing the love of his life.
In a case of life imitating art, the story loosely mirrors Axel Rose's own troubled relationship with his then girlfriend, and star of two of the three videos, Stephanie Seymour. While Stephanie is still alive and well in real life, her relationship with the GNR front man was every bit as turbulent as the one portrayed in the trilogy. When they finally broke up in 1993, there were allegations of assault by both parties, accusations of infidelity, and two separate lawsuits.
So much for happily ever after.
There's a heaven above you baby...
In what would become an all too common trend, part one of this trilogy starts in the middle of the story. "Don't Cry" shows the troubled relationship between the two main characters (played by Axel Rose and Stephanie Seymour), and how it's beginning to tear them apart- both as a couple and as individuals.
As their relationship deteriorates, as in real life,, it begins to impact those around them. Nearly every member of the band is shown dealing with a volatile relationship.
Part One: "Don't Cry"
And it's hard to hold a candle, in the cold November rain...
November Rain turns back the clock a little to show how Axel and Stephanie met, them dating, and, in one of the most iconic scenes from any music video, their wedding. The video then flashes forward to Seymour laying in her coffin. While the video never reveals what kills Stephanie Seymour, in the story its based on the troubled relationship finally becomes too much for her and she takes her own life.
Showing our hero at his happiest only servers to reinforce the crushing despair he feels later in the video, and it serves as the perfect setup for the third and final act in this play.
Part Two: "November Rain"
'Cause I see the storm getting closer, and the waves they get so high...
By far the most enigmatic video of the trilogy, "Estranged" uses some pretty... interesting imagery to illustrate the point that comes after every personal tragedy: that time when you have to chose to either move on, or let your pain consume you. While flying dolphins wouldn't have been my first choice for this, the video nonetheless deals with the emotions behind this choice in a surprisingly realistic manner.
Part Three: "Estranged"