The story takes place in the old streets of Porto and by the banks of the Douro River. A gang of very young kids has just accepted a new member, Carlitos, a shy boy who has “played it tough” by stealing a doll in a shop. Carlitos soon develops a crush on Terezinha,the only girl of the group. The trouble is that Eduardo, the “boss”, is also in love with the pretty little girl. And he will not allow any rival to challenge him…
Given the historical context of its production, Aniki-Bóbó can clearly be read in political or sociological terms as a somewhat contradictory exploration of repression and freedom. transgression and punishment. Oliveira has said that his film, shot during the war and the dictatorship, has a pacifist spirit, even though that was not a direct intention. It spoke against oppression. I included a policeman only because of the film’s symbolic aspect. It was an attack on the dictatorship. Police control took the place of an education that should come. from civic practice. which did not exist during Salazar’s Estado Novo” (Baecque and Parsi 137). A political or sociological interpretation finds resonance in the location shooting along the banks of the Douro River and the use of nonprofessional actors, which have led numerous critics to see the film as a pre- cursor of neorealism. At the same time. its exploration of desire. guilt, and fear lends itself to a psychoanalytical reading, which is bolstered aesthetically by the film’s oneiric, frankly expressionist sequences.
from “Manoel de Oliveira” By Randal Johnson