Here are two children of Bruce Lacey to demonstrate how to make breakfast, or at least prepare a bowl of cereal. Lacey has decided to make a film which would describe to a Martian how the people of Earth go about their everyday activities, and as breakfast in bed is the first thing he does after waking up, that is what he has chosen to depict: both his daughters Tiffany and Saffron greet him in bed this January morning with the cereal, which he proceeds to eat. And next up...
The rest of what Lacey could fit into the reels of film at his disposal, that's what was next, and for the following hour we got a look at a family life which could have been described as intrusive if anyone other than the Laceys were making it. As it was, intimate was one word you could alternatively employ, but Mr Lacey was one who lived to perform and create, as in evidence from his popping up in various projects, some important and high profile, others low key and underground, mixing with the likes of The Beatles and The Goons among other British cultural touchstones. Not one to hide his light under a bushel, he had been making short films since his student days.
This particular effort was the longest of his works, one which eschewed the credit of director as according to him in the actual film it was a group enterprise, although you had to admit that Bruce seemed to be the guiding force to the production. Made with a grant from the British Arts Council, that money must have just been enough to cover the film stock, as this looked to be nothing more than a glorified home movie, and even then wasn't glorified much. Each scene is introduced with the clapperboard and they made no secret of the fact that they were shooting this as basically as possible, therefore its breaking the fourth wall was so prevalent it became part of the texture.
To call this self-indulgent was probably accurate, but then name a film which wasn't - the Laceys were simply more upfront about their personal gratification when it came to recording their day, and certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves, the occasional crying fit from the little girls notwithstanding. Various ordinary behaviour was captured for posterity, which meant waking up, eating, washing, playing, and finally getting back to bed whereupon the lights are turned off. Obviously this was in spite of its professed prosaic nature, an eccentric exercise, but looked forward to a time when many ordinary folks would get hold of increasingly sophisticated recording equipment and make movies of their own lives.
Bruce Lacey comes across as an engaging sort, though his predeliction for taking his clothes off in front of the camera may be unsettling for those unused to such frankness - his wife Jill Bruce offers the camera an eyeful as well, but he would reason that how else would you show how to wash or go to the lavatory? Actually, rather than illustrate the universal qualities of the daily rituals of the title, you may well find yourself seeing how different they are compared to the way you went about things with your own family, as all the quirks which this one took for granted as the normal manner to go about their business begin to take on a curiously alien property, not least because of the gradual passage of time which leaves this more of a historical document than was possibly intended. Some of it may make you laugh, other parts will be having you rolling your eyes, but their openess is actually engaging; it's a snapshot in its way.
[This is available in The Lacey Rituals, the BFI's double disc collection of short films connected to Bruce Lacey, whether as performer, designer, director or otherwise.]