Thirty-odd years ago, Guns ‘N Roses made a trio of music videos that seemed packed with ominous implications, coded imagery and epic guitar solos. The videos for “Don’t Cry,” “November Rain” and “Estranged” prompted plenty of debate at the time — and, to an extent, still do. Was there a secret storyline playing out below the surface? What was the deal with the dolphin Axl Rose hangs out with at one point? Had Reddit been around at the time, the theories would have been flying.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of all came in the “November Rain” video, when a wedding guest takes a flying leap through the ornate cake on display for the occasion. If you watched the video then — or, really, at any point since then — you’ve probably asked yourself some variation of the question What is that guy’s deal, anyway?
And now, one writer has gotten to the bottom of that very question. In an article for Vice, Alex Scordelis wrote about a moment that’s been on his mind for 30 years. “Whenever I see it, I can’t help but wonder: Was that planned? How many takes did it take to get that shot? How many cakes? Who was the cake jumper?” he writes.
Director Andy Morahan revealed that the works of Nicolas Roeg — director of The Man Who Fell to Earth and Don’t Look Now — were a big influence on all three videos in the trilogy. “It was deliberately over the top. It’s an allegory,” Morahan said — and went on to describe the cake jump as “a tongue-in-cheek bad dream, where everything just goes to sh*t.”
As for the logistics behind the cake jump, cinematographer Daniel Pearl was forthcoming about his experiences as well, and revealed that there was, in fact, only one cake on the set. “It looks like the guy jumps into the cake, and we had only one cake. So there it is, that’s it,” Pearl told Vice. “That’s what it is.”
And with that, some of the mysteries of an iconic music video have become a little less mysterious.
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