Slava Ukraini! (Glory to Ukraine!), is a new documentary by Bernard-Henri Levy chronicling the Ukrainian forces counterinsurgency over the last year that delivers a fuller picture of the Russian devastation, and the will to resist among Ukrainian civilians, and the conviction among Ukrainian troops that they will triumph. In this film, Bernard-Henri Levy is not presenting both sides of the conflict, but rather what this war is like for the Ukrainians and why the stakes matter so much to the rest of the world.
The War in Ukraine, a defining moment for the 21st Century, is in many respects, unlike any war ever before.
For one, it is a war Russia is primarily waging by missile, with many of those missiles falling on civilian targets, to induce fear, erase resolve, and make Russian liberation seem wanted. It is a war on infrastructure, on electricity and heating, and where nuclear power plants are held hostage.
On the other hand, Ukraine’s resistance is novel as well. Never has the leader of a besieged country spent so much time visiting other countries and addressing their legislative bodies, and hosting foreign leaders in their capital, while so many of their citizens have fled to neighboring countries. Never has a country defended itself with so many foreign delivered supplies, armaments, and advanced technologies.
It is also striking how easily victory and defeat has eluded each side and how there remains no obvious or reasonable peaceful resolution – even according to each side.
This is a war that was supposed to happen and didn’t for several months. Once it began, it was only supposed to last a few days or a few weeks. Winter was supposed to be the decisive moment for Russia, in which capitulation by the Ukrainians was assured to occur, as much as it was by Hitler and by Napoleon before him. Now it is spring, and a new offensive has begun.
Moreover, news coverage of the war also has defied our accepted norms. Although at first every news outlet covered the day in, day out struggles, battles and human-interest stories of the besieged Ukrainians, over time, these stories have taken on a sameness. Because there is no true insight into Putin’s plans, or any true wisdom on any possible conflict resolution, it feels like there is nothing to the news from Ukraine.
In this light, Bernard-Henri Levy’s new documentary on the war in Ukraine, Slava Ukraini, co-directed with Marc Roussel and produced by Frances Margolin and associate Produce Emily Hamilton, is a powerful instrument to remind us about the importance of this war, and the importance of caring about its outcome.
It turns out that watching a 94-minute documentary that takes the viewer all over Ukraine in the last year to witness the battles fought there, the civilian casualties and the possible Russian war crimes, is much more engaging and affecting than watching or reading the daily news reports.
What Bernard-Henri Levy is engaged in with Slava Ukraini, is what younger journalists might call “Advocacy Journalism” which is to say that he reports the facts accurately, but he has a point of view and even an agenda.
That agenda: To keep our focus on Ukraine. To see with our own eyes both the Russian indiscriminate ruin of civilian targets, as well as the bravery and steadfastness of Ukrainian forces, and finally, the threat to Western Democracy that a Russian victory poses.
Watch this documentary and you too will say, “Slava Ukraini!“