Estranged by Guns N’ Roses is the latest video in the trilogy, after Don’t Cry and November Rain. The three videos are part of a series inspired by Del James’ short story “Without You”. But before we see what the music video is about, let’s start with the song.
The Estranged song by Guns N’ Roses
The song Estranged by Guns N’ Roses is part of the fourth studio album “Use Your Illusion II”. Its publication dates back to 1993.
It is the longest track on the album and lasts over 9 minutes. In the Guns discography only “Coma” from “Use Your Illusion I” surpasses it.
It is a very special song, because it features verses without a chorus. In addition, there are several guitar and piano solos.
The meaning of the lyrics of Estranged
If we look at the lyrics of “November Rain”, we are faced with a forced, unrequited love that generates sadness and a desire to escape. With “Estranged” things take a step forward: now the protagonist does not know what to do with this relationship, he has come to an end. His dreams and wishes have not come true and he has no hope for the future. The only solution seems to be estrangement from the world, both mental and physical.
Axl Rose wrote the song during a long stay in Chicago. For him it was a moment of deep depression due to the crisis of his marriage to Erin Everly. They got engaged in 1986 but in 1991, after less than a year of marriage, they got divorced.
The video for the song: the scenes from the Olympiastadion in Munich
It begins with the image of a paragraph from a dictionary, with the explanation of the word “illusion”. We can relate the illusion to the estrangement. Those who are estranged from the world remain clinging to an illusion. In other cases, a false illusion can generate an estrangement, so as not to have to look at the sad reality.
In the background we hear the cry of seagulls. We then see a rubber tire used as a swing that rocks and a house surrounded by police and ambulances.
Police officers in riot gear break into the house with their batteries running. Axl Rose wakes up. However, he is not in his bed but above the wardrobe. When the cops enter the room they don’t see him. But is it real or is it a figment of Axl Rose’s imagination?
Axl Rose has flash back of past episodes. He sees children playing in the garden of his house. Also think back to a concert with the Guns N’ Roses. These scenes derive from the Munich Olympiastadion during the Use Your Illusion Tour.
The scenes in Axl Rose’s Californian villa
In the backstage of the live show, Axl rests on the sofa and falls asleep. His soul comes out of the body.
At 3:58, Guns N’ Roses come out of a house in white dresses. This house is actually Axl Rose’s home in Malibu, California. In the garden of the villa there are children playing. Children probably represent a carefree life full of illusions and hopes for the future.
The explanation of the term “estranged” appears.
“To remove customary environment or associations”
“To arouse esp. mutual enmity or indifference in where there had formerly been love, affection or friendliness”
“Estrange implies the development of indifference or hostility with consequent separation or divorcement”
The reality around Axl begins to seem made of moving water. At home, there is a large wooden crucifix hanging on a wall and Axl passes by, before leaving the house too. The Guns board a plane from which a giant hologram of a dolphin comes out.
We then see Axl walking down the street at night, while in the street there is a river in flood, where dolphins swim. But it seems that all of this is the result of the singer’s imagination.
Rose throws himself from a freight ship
In a later scene Axl is on a freight ship or oil tanker. He wears a Charles Manson face shirt that will become very famous, especially combined with the words “Charlie don’t surf”.
The attempts of the other members of Guns N’ Roses to save him are worthless. He wants to die and throws himself into the water (no stunts!). In the water, however, he meets dolphins which bring him back to lucidity.
It seems that Axl’s initial idea for this video was to jump off a bridge, but then the director opted for launching from a ship, because it was less expensive (and perhaps even less dangerous).
But back to the video: at this point we witness the “almost comical” exit of Slash from the ocean playing the guitar, as if he were the god of the sea Poseidon. Sum 41 parodied this scene in the video for “Into The Deep”.
Meanwhile, Axl comes out of the water and agrees to get on a rescue helicopter. The last scenes show us an Axl shoe sinking into the abyss and the writing “disillusion” with the meaning. Later Axl is sitting in a room with the puppet of a dolphin and the words “Lose your illusions” appear.