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  Everybody's Nobody What A Piece Of Work Is A ManBuy this film here.
Year: 1960
Director: Bruce Lacey, John Sewell
Stars: Bruce Lacey, John Sewell
Genre: Comedy, Weirdo
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Here is a guide to the Mobile Absurd Nonentity you ordered, as dictated by the manufacturer to his secretary, to give you some idea of the unit's capabilities and restrictions. From here on we will term it by its initials, M.A.N. as we unpack it from its crate and see what it looks like. It can best be described as moronic in intellect, though that does not mean it does not have its uses, what with its torso, legs, arms and head working in concert it can deliver as a handy tool to have around...

Although the narrator describes the M.A.N. as moronic quite frequently, here we were clear where our sympathies were intended to lie, as this was a short, black and white film (barely twenty minutes) by the team of Bruce Lacey (writer and sole performer onscreen) and his early collaborator John Sewell, with whom he had started his career with a series of experimental and offbeat short subjects. Quite often these would display Lacey's antiestablishment angle on his material, as in this case where the voice of a barely capable God makes pronouncements on his creation which many of them would find unfair.

Not that M.A.N., or humanity really, were completely let off the hook, as we don't get slotted into the idiot category so easily for nothing - if Everybody's Nobody tells us anything, it's that we're a bit dim for getting into the troubled situations we do in the first place, or at any rate not doing our best to extricate ourself from these absurd and restrictive areas. Coming across like some kind of educational film gone wonky, it had echoes in Lacey's longest experimental work The Lacey Rituals which also goes out of its way to explain the human race to some entity which may not be entirely up to speed about what we actually do.

With a few props Lacey indulges himself in silliness as Sewell performed the mock-serious, almost absent-minded commentary, telling us what ears and nose can be used for, and how a mouth operates. It's a very basic film, and can't have cost much more than an ambitious home movie, but it gets its points across with humour, eccentricity and a penny farthing, seemingly the objet d'art for many out there pop culture artefacts of the sixties, though this duo got in there early. Instead of closing with the credit "The End", they opted for "The End is sooner than you think" suggesting they were also tapping into the growing unease over the Cold War and our then inevitable (in some opinions) nuclear war. But you could simply watch Everybody's Nobody without taking its more serious themes onboard, for it remained pleasingly daft otherwise.

[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.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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