Bernard-Henri Lévy, along with Gilles Hertzog, Jean-Paul Enthoven, Guy Scarpetta and Gabi Gleichmann, among others, founds the journal La Règle du Jeu, the title of which is an explicit double homage to Michel Leiris and Jean Renoir. The editorial committee includes such eminent writers as Czelaw Milosz, Carlos Fuentes, Amos Oz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Susan Sontag, and Salman Rushdie. Here, he publishes the text of his report made to Thierry de Beaucé and François Mitterrand under the title “Dans les fourgons de la liberté” [Within the Confines of Liberty].
His Questions de Principe Trois [Questions of Principle III] is published in the spring, with the subtitle La suite dans les idées [Coherence of Ideas] – a new collection of texts ranging from political reporting to reflections on art and fiction, to analysis of the paintings of Frank Stella. Lévy’s admiration for Stella gives rise to Stella, les années 80 [Stella: the 1980s]. Lévy says to have found – in literature – this “combination of grace and level-headedness… only in the works of Baudelaire”.
Publication of Les Aventures de la Liberté, the prose version of a series of four films made by Alain Ferrari and produced by Simone Harari. This “subjective history of intellectuals” as reads the subtitle of the book, ranges from the Dreyfus affair to the death of Jean-Paul Sartre. This panorama of the 20th century includes such figures as Althusser, Barthes, Camus, Malraux, Foucault, Sartre, Drieu la Rochelle and many others. The Bronzes de César [The Bronzes of Cesar] is published by Les Editions de la Différence. Bernard-Henri Lévy is named by Jack Lang to be President of the Commission d’ Avances sur Recettes au cinéma for two years.
This new responsibility does not keep Lévy from again turning his attention to the great painters, dedicating a book to Piero della Francesca, the master of the Italian Renaissance, and to Mondrian (Editions de la Différence). It is also the early days of the war in ex-Yugoslavia.
Bernard-Henri Lévy takes up the call. With Gilles Hertzog, Jean-François Deniau and the young mayor of Lourdes, Philippe Doust-Blazy, BHL is the first, in May 1992, to enter the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo under siege. On his return he transmits to President Mitterrand the message of distress and appeal for help that the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, entrusted to him during the siege. It is this message and Lévy’s insistence that will convince the French president to undertake his “historic” trip to Sarajevo. With Alain Ferrari, and with the images of Thierry Ravalet, Lévy creates a first documentary entitled Un jour dans la mort de Sarajevo [A Day in the Death of Sarajevo]. Broadcast on television by France 3 on December 20, 1992, it presents, in 63 minutes, the martyrdom of this ecumenical city and the suffering of its inhabitants who heroically resist the incessant bombings.
With Le Jugement Dernier [The Last Judgement], BHL makes the transition to theatre. Presented at the Théâtre de l’Atelier with stage direction by Jean-Louis Martinelli, this play sketches a portrait of the 20th century: communism, Nazism, “Pol Potism” – all the great excesses of the century appear here, but with a dimension of humour and of sarcasm that is surprising for those familiar with Barbarie à visage humain.The publication of the fourth volume of Questions de principe (sub-titled Idées fixes; Le Livre de Poche) brings together a new series of articles, dedicated notably to post-communist Europe, the Gulf War, the Touvier affair, as well as an homage to former teachers: Roland Barthes, Louis Althusser, and Jacques Lacan. In October, in Finland, Salman Rushdie makes his first public appearance, under the aegis of BHL.
After divorcing Sylvie Bouscasse, he marries the actress Arielle Dombasle. The wedding takes place at the Colombe d’Or hotel in the village of Saint-Paul de Vence, France. His witnesses are Jean-Paul Enthoven and Gilles Hertzog. Les Hommes et les Femmes [Men and Women], a conversation on love with writer and political figure Françoise Giroud, is published that spring by Les Editions Orban. Bernard-Henri Lévy is appointed by François Mitterand to the Conseil de Surveillance de la Sept-Arte, overseeing the French public television channel Sept, later to become Arte. Here, he joins his old friend and movie producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier (1941-2003), who serves as vice president of the Conseil. As a member of the Conseil, he also begins a long association and friendship with the writer and journalist Jérôme Clément, who will be the driving force behind the channel. Bernard-Henri Lévy begins writing a regular column for the weekly newspaper Le Point.
He makes several trips to Sarajevo. Organizes, through La Règle du Jeu, Président Izetbegovic’s ‘wildcat’ visit to Paris and then a European tour for him.
From September 1993 to March 1994, he dedicates himself almost exclusively to the filming of the movie Bosna!. Filmed on the front lines and with the besieged city of Sarajevo, as well as in the fire of battle and the underground cellars sheltering the persecuted civilian population, this film is a unique testimony to the Bosnian tragedy. Bernard-Henri Lévy is accompanied in this adventure by co-director Alain Ferrari, and by his regular travel companion and co-writer for the film Gilles Hertzog. The film is produced by the production company Les Films du Lendemain, founded for the occasion by his father, André Lévy, in association with François Pinault. Director and film critic Gilles Jacob will select it for the category “Un certain regard” at the Festival of Cannes.
In the wake of his film, and in a memorable episode of the major political series Heure de Vérité, hosted by journalists Albert du Roy and Alain Duhamel, BHL comes forth with the idea in May 1994 of a “Sarajevo list” of candidates for the European elections, in an effort to urge Western countries to intervene in favour of the Bosnian Muslims in the civil war. This announcement and the list itself contribute significantly to increasing public opinion in support of Bosnia. Judging that the demands outlined by the Liste had been duly taken into consideration by the traditional political parties, Bernard-Henri Lévy comes out in favour of dissolving the Liste. Some members, including Léon Schwartzenberg, Marina Vlady, and Admiral Sanguinetti, refuse to withdraw, assuming the responsibility to follow through to the elections.
Along with Alain Finkielkraut, André Glucksmann, Jacques Julliard, Pascal Bruckner, and a few others, he founds the CRI (Comité de Réflexion et Intervention), protesting the ongoing massacres not only in Bosnia but also in Algeria and Rwanda. Nobel prize laureate Czelaw Milosz in named honorary President of the CRI.
In the autumn, events in Bosnia, Rwanda and Algeria inspire BHL to write a new book, La Pureté dangereuse (Grasset) in which he develops the concept of a “thirst for purity” and its many forms, including the madness of the Hutu ethnic identity displayed in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and anti-Western hatred in an Algeria fraught with massacres at the hands of radical fundamentalists—or, not so long ago, communism and Nazism.