Followers of global politics will be surprised to learn that Bernard-Henri Levy is responsible for the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, but that's the story Levy tells in "The Oath of Tobruk," co-helmed with Marc Roussel. Levy is France's media star philosopher, a peculiarly Gallic creation whose immaculate tailoring and savvy self-promotion make him the darling of celeb rags and higher institutions. With "Tobruk," he's finally been subsumed by his own ego, placing himself front and center of Libya's revolution and barely acknowledging other forces. Such self-aggrandizement will play to only acolytes at home.I admit to being confused as to how philosophy and self-promotion are in harmony.
[H]is nonstop theatricalized narration, interminable use of the first person, and treatment of the Libyan desert as little more than a "GQ" fashion shoot with himself as model don't make for a sympathetic portrait. Nor together do they say much about the real nature of Gaddafi's defeat.
BHL entered Libya in March 2011 together with sidekick Gilles Hertzog (Ed McMahon to Levy's Johnny Carson). His appearance was informed by 20 years of guilt, when his cry for intervention in Bosnia (the subject of his 1994 docu "Bosna") went largely unheeded. Convinced that the West must intervene in Libya, he crisscrossed the globe, using his access to the halls of power to spur leaders into military action.
According to "Tobruk," that's pretty much all it took. Interviews with Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, Hillary Clinton and others are edited to reflect BHL's importance and glory, while scenes of adulatory crowds cheering him in Benghazi testify to his skills in selling himself as the embodiment of First World action. The chaotic nature of the opposition is nowhere seen, and there's little sense of what was happening on the battlefields.
At any rate, if a self-absorbed Jewish figure says that he is the reason Western powers decided to act in Libya, the Arabs are more than happy to believe him.
Al Manar uses this documentary as proof of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to foment chaos in the Arab world.
If Levy thinks that releasing such a film would have a positive effect in, say, Syria, it is possible that his own ego is now more pronounced than his analytic abilities.