Ramona – La Grande Bellezza

It’s been over a year since I posted anything about film, but Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza has prompted me to ask one question; What about Ramona?

I always find it interesting when a significant death in a film is skirted over with haste – the adaptation of No Country for Old Men springs to mind.

Ramona was one of the most curious characters in this film. Despite a career which Jep’s high-brow friends frown upon, and a party costume that would make Britney Spears jealous, Ramona was a character of humility.

What happened to her? Did she kill herself, or was it another moment of surrealism? And if she did kill herself, did Jep care? Most of all, why isn’t the fate of Ramona clear?



Filed under Drama

13 responses to “Ramona – La Grande Bellezza

  1. Patrick

    It’s suggested she had some disease that she was spending her earnings on curing… Perhaps she decided to stop treating herself

  2. Glad that this is a question. I thought I just missed something.

  3. I wondered also. I think maybe the scene where she appears dead on his bed, she actually had died on his bed. That moment she ‘woke up’ and said “5 more minutes” and gazes at the ceiling ‘ocean’ with Jep was supposed to be poetic in some sense. As this time we see the ceiling as just a ceiling and not the ocean. I don’t know. Just an idea.

    • dddogger

      I think you’re right about how she has actually died on his bed. I think where she ‘wakes up’ is showing the viewer Jep’s imagining of a conversation with the ‘ghost’ of Ramona asking her “Can you see the sea?” as a metaphor for something like “Are you at peace with the world? / Have you found heaven? / etc.” She says “I spend all my money to cure myself” — perhaps we are suppose to interpret that she had some terminal disease (e.g. cancer?)

  4. dddogger

    Now that I read a couple Italian reviews, I believe the reason why the fate of Ramona isn’t clear, appears to be that “Ramona” is supposed to be a personification of Rome — and that she spends all her money to cure herself is perhaps a metaphor for a modern Rome that spends its wealth trying to live up to its perceived former glory when, as the conclusion suggests, it needs to (with irreverence to past success/beauty) move on to creating a new future. Perhaps Ramona (Rome) dying and subsequently answering to Jep that she can now ‘see the sea’ is a metaphor for the death and rebirth of Rome?

  5. michael

    Just walked out of this thought-provoking flick (‘specially since I’ll be comning up to Jep in 6:) and Ramona was the gib question on my mind. If I remember correctly, a scene closely following showed someone driving towards a disastrous encounter with the ocean…….

  6. I suggest she died as a victim of HIV. Jep and her didn´t have sex… and the cure for HIV is very expensive but sometimes hopeless.

  7. Clive

    Hey glad I found this post !. I went to see the film twice. Firstly its the best film I saw in 2013 and and secondly to work out what happened to Ramona. And…I still didn’t get it / missed it ! Just ordered the DVD. From what I have seen above it looks as if she died and Jep was talking to her ghost…I like the parallels with Rome; the explanation makes a lot of sense. What happened to Ramona was the big question for me. I feel its answered now – A big thanks

  8. Good question. It was handled in a way that can only provoke deeper thinking.

    Personally, i think it was suicide. Whilst Ramona was clearly unhappy when we first meet her, I believe that it was her relationship with Jep that pushed her over the edge.

    Ramona is someone who has always been used by men for sexual purposes. Even her father makes money from her stripping. When Jep comes to her house that men have only ever wanted one thing. Jep says he is not after this.

    Initially, this is true. They seem to have a workable, mutually beneficial, platonic relationship. But that seems to have changed in the final scene she is in. In this moment, she is naked on his bed, at first seemingly dead. He brings her breakfast, she awakes and they talk. Jep asks if she can see the sea. She cannot. His ceiling is just a ceiling to her. There is no romantic view. For Ramona it is plain.

    To me it can be said that in sleeping with her, Jep has robbed her of the possibility of making life about something else. And thus, she took her own life.

    The fact that this scene is proceeded by the sequence in which Jep prepares her for the funeral of the kid who committed suicide, is again, telling. He is a good bit younger than Ramona, but no less part of a world cut off from that of its parents who have given them a world with no meaning and little to live for, despite the wealth and decadence they have.

    Jep, despite my love of the character on some levels, is emblematic of this.

    Finally, one of the very next shots after we learn of her death is Jep staring over the sunken Concordia cruise liner. We all know the story of this: a captain to busy partying on-board to pay attention to the fact that his ship was heading for the rocks.

  9. Matthew

    Although THE GREAT BEAUTY has many fine moments, that we have to perform so much guesswork about Ramona’s fate is a weakness, as is the movie’s dispensing with her just to, essentially, replace her with “the Saint”.

  10. dozanjos

    Could it be something like this? She died on his bed and the rest of the scene was surreal. The broken ship would mean his life was braking in pieces as he was getting older and closer to death?

  11. Pamela Wang (Taiwan)

    Please look into the news about the capsizing of a cruise liner around the Costa Concordia of Italy two years ago. These scenes are shown when Jep stood at the dock and read his lines about Ramona’s death. Again, it’s a sudden death like that Japanese tourist. And that’s just what the main theme is about as Jep’s monologue : “This is how it always ends. With death. But first there was life, hidden beneath the blah, blah, blah… It’s all settled beneath the chitter chatter and the noise, silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. … Therefore… let this novel begin. After all… it’s just a trick. Yes, it’s just a trick.”

  12. Belezza Fan

    Thanks everyone for contributing. I am also puzzled, but I don’t think it is a weakness, as someone above suggested. I don’t think there is a definitive answer to what happened to Ramona, but I think perhaps the last post by Pamela comes closest to what her role in the story was. I think the key is her relationship with Jep: despite her profession, she seems to be one of the few genuine people around him, and he seems to have a genuine relationship with her (their relationship seems to culminate when he reveals to her his strategy not to cry at the funeral, and then he cries, she is the only one that knows that these are genuine tears, while others may see it only as a part of his “performance”). Other women he may sleep with, but does not really care about. She has something of a Mary Magdalene character to her.

    I think it is not important how she died, but since the whole movie is partly about mourning Jep’s lost alternative life with his first love, maybe he had some hope of recreating this with Ramona, before she died. And in this sense, her death indeed shows that it is not possible to return to change or relive the past. Note that Jep’s first girlfriend left him, just like Ramona left him (and whether this is because of her choice, as in a suicide, or because of her illness, is secondary). And maybe a hint of the impossibility of his life with Ramona is shown when they are together on the bed, talking about the sea on the ceiling, but notice that when Ramona is looking, she does not see the waves (she says that she does, but the following scene shows only a plain ceiling, not like when Jep was loking at it earlier). So she is lying to him, maybe because she realized that this part of the story is coming to an end…

    But in any case, a beautiful movie that has so many layers. I returned to it today after a few years and I still find it stunning!

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