Ruins. An ocean of ruins. But, also, heart and soul. “What few people have. We wash ourselves. And whoever we are, here, we’ll be there,” said a resident, facing the camera. Ultra-determined, like most of the real-life characters in this film, including Commander Ilya Samoilenko, 27, a hook ending his amputated left arm, filmed from the underground labyrinth of the Azovstal factory in one of his last moments of freedom.

Since the surprise surrender of the last square of these eastern hoplites, holding Mariupol like Leonidas and his family, Thermopylae, no one has heard from them. Witness, the voice strangled by emotion, black t-shirt

The images of the Ukrainian conflict are not lacking, but these, we had not seen them. Filmed as close as possible to the fighting, as close as possible to the atrocities trampling on all conventions. Closer to heroism, too, of Putin’s resisters, the man “who has no eyes”, to use the expression used by Zelensky in a staggering interview of frankness and humanity with the writer -philosopher and filmmaker.

Why Ukraine: this is the false question, moreover without a question mark, posed by the title of the film, a political object, an exhortation to act, both the “because” raining down like Russian gunfire on the facades of buildings in Borodyanka or Mykolaiv. “Because” Europe, above all, the obsession with BHL, which returns to the Epiphany of Maidan, and the conviction, instinctive, that the master of the Kremlin was not going to pass on this democratic affront. “Because” freedom, too, sung by a fighter a capella, in her refuge, today’s Masada tragically lit by phosphorus bombs. “We don’t want the glory. Better to die in battle than to live as a slave. »

Why Ukraine, a film by Bernard-Henri Lévy. Broadcast on June 28 at 10:25 p.m. on Arte and available on