Aniki Bóbó

A singsong children's game forms the basis for Oliveira's first feature, a sly parable of adolescence and acquiescence under dictatorship that led to the director being blacklisted by Portugal's repressive government. Two young boys, the shy Carlitos and the brash bully Eduardinho, compete for the attentions of Teresinha, a contest that soon blossoms into rebellion and promises a certain escape from their well-patrolled lives. Oliveira films the world of these pint-sized protagonists with an unsentimentally direct hand, treating their naive games of cops and robbers (referred to in the film's title) as mere trial runs for the decision all adults must make, that between authority and resistance. With its nonprofessional cast, natural lighting, and street-level direct shooting (in Oliveira's beloved Porto), Aniki-Bóbó has been called the first neorealist film, having been made several years before the movement's presumed debut, Rossellini's Rome, Open City (1945).

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.