Tanner’s film starts with descriptions of private love only to end with psychological side of social utopia. The reason political revolutions are violent is that revolutionaries are desperate – they identify with deprivation and pain inseparable from it, while counterrevolutionaries are stubborn because they’re fearful of losing that which they possess – they identify with their possessions: with appropriation and consumerism. Aren’t these two postures exactly the unconscious psychological positions of Alan Tanner‘s heroine Mercedes (Myriam Mezieres) in this film on the one side, and her two loves (Johnny and Pierre), on the other? And isn’t Mercedes’ very profession of a successful pantomime-artist and her comic number of having sexual relations with a stuffed gorilla – an expression of her growing incompatibility with the very idea of private relations based on mutual consumption and reciprocal possession while ignoring the world’s potentials for more spiritual life?

Tanner’s film is not about political revolution or any type of aggressive action. Revolution is present in “A Flame in My Heart” in the psychological mutation in the heroine of the film – through her readiness for an alternative life (most “revolutionaries” are unable in their practice to be people of humanistic orientation instead of brainwashing and manipulating the population, unable to teach people how to respect themselves, others and nature. But Tanner’s and Myriam Mezieres’ Mercedes is psychologically mutated into a person with a genuinely revolutionary position, which has nothing to do with “fighting to death for revolutionary ideals”.

Of course, Mercedes’ private affairs are not typical example of heterosexual couples’ behavior, and partially it’s a consequence of her own over-consuming sexual and amorous passions. She is simultaneously an overindulgent and an over-tormented mistress and wife. Nobody could help her in her search for an alternative to privatized personal relationship, when private togetherness is considered the basis or even nucleus of human life. Mercedes, like everybody was protected by marital or amorous behavioral archetype from the awareness of crippled, entropic world around and she was occupied mainly with survival and success of her private nest. Rulers are oriented on propagandizing private happiness in order not to let people to concentrate on issues, which the wealthy decision-makers consider their prerogative to think about “in the name of the people” (starting wars, distributing wealth, control of technological progress and the direction of historical change).

The end of the film leads us to Mercedes’ future without opening the curtain, because history itself is not sure what it will be for the person who is ready for the alternative – revolutionary everyday life. But we, viewers, do feel this alternative in Miriam Mezieres’ tactful, but incredibly frank performance.


Johnny keeps trying to persuade Mercedes to make their amorous bonds a permanent happiness, but she already understood the difference between possessiveness (not necessarily towards her, but towards prestigious marital label) and love.


Pierre was an irresistible lover and a democratic, tolerant and a rational soul, but togetherness with him was like a life in a psychological fort or castle – a place more fundamental than life itself.


With Pierre Mercedes started to do erotic theatrics, and this made their sexual relations like a cosmic show.


All of this ended with Mercedes’ invention of a new number – a comic pantomime with stuffed gorilla. From Mercedes’ point of view it was a parody on sexual relations.


Especially the young people were ready to watch Mercedes’ striptease with the gorilla over again and again – some in the audience became, as if petrified – muted and paralyzed.


Mercedes understood that she cannot settle down in private relationship as the basis of her life


Mercedes found herself as a person who wants to be dedicated to disinterested loving and helping people and life in general

Posted on 6/16/’17 –   Alain Tanner’s “A Flame in My Heart” (1987) – Frustrated and Disoriented Search For Disinterested Existential Togetherness by Acting-Out Politics