‘Beautiful Rebel’ True Story, Explained: Did Gianna Nannini’s Lose Her Fingers In Real-Life?


Chances are, even if you had never even heard of Gianna Nannini before watching Beautiful Rebel the pulsating boldness of “America” and the raw expression of a crush in “Latin Lover” caught your attention. After all, Gianna’s list of hit singles (that’s got to include “Fotoromanza”) caught the attention of her hometown and her country before the sound spread all around Europe, especially Germany. Beautiful Rebel oftentimes goes quite up close and personal when it walks us through the odd life of the Italian rockstar. There’s this jolting honesty that makes her music so moving, even though she doesn’t have the traditional sensitivities in her voice. And that unrefined honesty is what Beautiful Rebel attempts to capture in the tale of Gianna Nannini coming to be the voice that’d impact the landscape of European rock.

Spoiler Alert

Gianna Nannini’s rise to success

Beautiful Rebel’s storyline is undoubtedly laced with fictional elements. Gianna Nannini has always been rather wary of divulging anything personal. But considering the rockstar was involved in the making and writing of the film that’s based on her autobiography, it’s safe to assume that the real Gianna was pressured by her father to give up on music. In the film, Gianna left a note and headed to Milan. There’s no account to suggest that the departure from home was similar to what was shown in the film. But at the age of 19, in 1975, Gianna did move to Milan to polish her skills as a singer-songwriter. The film’s on point about Gianna Nannini’s raw talent first being noticed by the big-league music label Ricordi. Her first album, “GIANNA NANNINI,” came out of her partnership with Ricordi, just like it was shown in the film. Beautiful Rebel makes it a point to emphasize the song “America” as the single that practically made her album “California” what it was. In real life too, “California” was Gianna’s ride to Germany, where she was showered with way more love and recognition than her own country was ready to give her. There’s no way to tell if it was David Roger Kranz who sent her over to the German music producer Conny Plank, especially given that Kranz seems to be a fictional character. But Conny was definitely the guy behind Gianna’s “Latin Lover,” where Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox was a guest musician. 

Gianna’s personal life 

Gianna’s mental health was as much a topic of discourse in Beautiful Rebel as her music. Her tendency to turn to cocaine for courage terrified Carla. The real Gianna Nannini had her struggles, with drugs being almost unavoidable in studios. Like most of the things that made her youth so tumultuous, the singer has come out of the grasp of addiction. In the film, Gianna was hallucinating the guy who was apparently the muse for “Latin Lover.” Marc’s consistent presence in her life for years kind of makes you wonder how early her schizophrenic hallucinations started to take shape. Schizophrenia happens to be a demon that the real Gianna Nannini has seen up close. There’s a chance the hallucination of a cat in her father’s car was added to enhance the tension, but her panic over having an asthma attack can be backed by the fact that the real Gianna has had asthma from a young age. There’s a sequence in the film that shows us the bizarre accident that took two phalanges of Gianna’s fingers. That not only happened in real life, but Gianna’s also elaborated in an interview on how the scream that she let out when her fingers were cut off by a machine in her father’s bakery was what led to her unique voice.

At one point in Beautiful Rebel, Gianna sings a song at a fair that is aching with the damage that was done to her when she was 13. The real Gianna Nannini has given unabashed accounts of the sexual harassment she experienced at music school at the age of 13. She’s also been rather vocal about the importance of speaking up about such experiences, which usually get buried under the shame surrounding them. The film made it a point to communicate how Gianni’s metaphorical rebirth took place around 1983. And in that line, the singer has addressed years worth of speculations around her gender by declaring that her rebirth came without gender. 

Gianna Nannini’s romantic and familial relationships

Gianna’s pansexuality pushed her to the sidelines of the industry in a country that was not ready to embrace a queer rockstar. Her relationship with her real-life partner Carla Accardi was the once-in-a-lifetime kind of romance for Gianna in Beautiful Rebel. The real Gianna Nannini is wary of the press’s invasive questions about her relationship with Carla, the woman she met decades ago and has loved ever since. But she’s mentioned the birth of her child, Penelope Jane, as the reason she married Carla in 2010. Other than excluding her brother Guido Nannini, Beautiful Rebel has stayed pretty close to reality in terms of exploring her complicated dynamics with her family. The real Gianna Nannini spent much of her teenage years working in her father’s bakery, which happens to be the oldest bakery in Siena. World famous for its ricciarelli, Pasticceria Nannini was Gianna’s father Danilo Nannini’s life’s work.

In Beautiful Rebel, Danilo was certain his son Alessandro had it in him to go to Formula 1.  And the real Alessandro Nannini did pursue racing and competed in Formula One for five years before he lost his arm in an accident. The film is unflinching in talking about Gianna’s thorny relationship with her father. The real Gianna had her dream rejected by her father because he didn’t think she’d ever go anywhere with her music. She was pushed to follow her natural talent on the tennis court, as Danilo loved the sport himself. But the reconciliation between Gianna and Danilo Beautiful Rebel couldn’t have possibly happened the way it did in the film. The real Danilo Nannini passed away in 2007, and I think the characters would’ve looked a lot older than they did in the film by then. But there’s no reason to think it didn’t happen in real life. Maybe it came later than she would’ve liked. 

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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjee
In cinema, Lopamudra finds answers to some fundamental questions of life. And since jotting things down always makes overthinking more fun, writing is her way to give this madness a meaning.

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