his adopted children all around the world

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
At the funeral of Ernest, the priest:
-- Now, Dr. Ernest Menville always felt that life begins at 50. And since we know so little of Ernest before that age, perhaps in his case, it's really true. Because it wasn't until 50 that he met his lovely wife, Claire, that he had two sons and four daughters, and then like a biblical patriarch began to spread his message of hope to his adopted children all around the world.
Death Becomes Her, movie

Is "adopted children" here used in a figurative sense?
Thank you.
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    We (I mean readers of this forum who have not seen the movie) don't know anything about the man or his history or personality other than what you've quoted. From that alone, I consider it impossible to know whether the speaker refers to (1) literal children that he adopted, (2) his religious followers, (3) a euphemism for illegitimate children, or (4) maybe something else.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    We (viewers of the movie) don't know anything about Ernest after he was 50 too. We're learning it right from this priest's speech.:)
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would say that a priest has "adopted children" in the sense that he has a flock or a following. It is figurative. It's a pretty common metaphor.
    Menville was not a priest as far as I can see.


    I think it means nothing at all - it's wickedly funny given what the doctor was really like. I suggest it's a spoof of the sort of homily or 'eulogy', priests and such give at funerals when they don't know the deceased. Note that this film is described as a 'black comedy'.

    There might be an urban/ folk-myth element to this idea, but if so it is based on the modern-day reality of people having religion- based funerals when they have not been religious and are unknown to the minister officiating and giving the oration.

    Myths are based on facts, but I won't go into my personal experience of an oration for someone I knew well which bore little resemblance to her, despite the minister having been fully briefed by her family about her.

    I almost fried my brain reading the Wiki plot synopsis of this film. Menville had been a plastic surgeon, but he descended into being an alcoholic mortician. Did he have a wife called Claire? I saw no mention of that.
    Whatever, ... the phrase 'his adopted children' has no special meaning in British English. It's a joke. I didn't see any suggestion of his having fathered children world wide.
    ('Children' can have a very wide meaning especially in a Christian context, "we are all God the Father's children" for example.)

    The rest of the homily:
    Death Becomes Her - 01:29
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you !
    I think it also might be somewhat referring to this: The Menville Marriage Counseling Clinic, the Menville Center for the Study of Women, and of course, Ernest's AA chapter will carry on long after his death.
    Maybe all those people to whom he has helped, directly and indirectly, are his "adopted children"?

    Menville had been a plastic surgeon, but he descended into being an alcoholic mortician. Did he have a wife called Claire? I saw no mention of that.
    The point is that all that happens during the movie is what is referred to by the priest in his speech in this line in #1: "since we know so little of Ernest before that age":)
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, sort of and vaguely, and most emphatically "No!No! No!", as far as I can see. What evidence do we have that he set up all these admirable institutions? None.
    These 'references' (sub-text) mean that his marriage was a total mess, he was an alcoholic, and that he had no understanding whatsoever of women.

    He didn't help anybody. His life was an unmitigated fiasco. This is a deliberately farcical attempt to fit a terrible life and personality into some sort of socially acceptable framework.
    That's what's funny about it.
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    What evidence do we have that he set up all these admirable institutions?
    To me it's absolutely obvious. This is what is implied in the movie. If you haven't watched the movie, his surname in the names of the institutions is the evidence.:)
    His life was an unmitigated fiasco.
    Not at all. His life, as the priest said, "began at 50". When he walked, or rather run, away from those two zombie-like women, Helen and Madeline, and found the meaning of life:)
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hum, I see what you mean so maybe. In that case he must have adopted children throughout the world. You can have the last word because I couldn't bear to watch the movie again.:D
     
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