Part romance, part breathtaking nature film, and wholly engrossing, Fire of Love tells the story of Katia and Maurice Krafft, two of the world’s foremost volcanologists. Their dedication to their calling — and each other — is captured deftly by director Sara Dosa, who mines extraordinary historic footage and pairs it with narration by Miranda July to produce a film that’s both quirky and a loving homage to two very passionate people.
The Kraffts earned their reputation by doing what most people probably would never dream of: running toward erupting volcanoes. From Italy to Hawaii to Japan and beyond, they studied their subjects with a keen interest and scientific precision, documenting the different kinds of volcanoes, observing their patterns and impact, and learning how to tell when all signs pointed to serious danger. Thanks to their work, lives have been saved and disasters mitigated.
And they did it all while capturing some really cool volcano footage. Smoke and ash billow, magma bubbles and pools, red-hot projectiles fly through the air — and the Kraffts are right there, clad in protective gear while standing mere feet from the inferno. Dosa makes the most of this treasure trove of images, weaving together front-line recordings and the many interviews the Kraffts did over the years to help demystify volcanoes for the masses.
July’s narration is an excellent fit for the movie’s affectionate but sometimes slightly bemused take on these two die-hard French volcano aficionados, who found in each other the perfect partner to dive into danger with (though even Katia couldn’t believe it when Maurice decided to go for a boat ride in an acid lake). Like Valerie and Ron Taylor, the Australian divers whose pioneering work was documented in Playing with Sharks, the Kraffts’ love of their subject was the driving force in their lives, leading to a powerful legacy that combined science, media, and a passion for discovery.– Betsy Bozdech
Team #MOTW’s comments:
Sherin Nicole It is clear the subject is ‘lifelong love’ when two people share an obituary. As a romance lover, I must say Fire of Love plays out like the documentation behind an epic romance novel. That, beyond the excavation of Katia and Maurice Krafft’s dedication to exploring the mysteries and the fury of volcanoes, is what pulls this true-life story closer. The filmmakers ask, “When you can die at any moment, what do you leave behind?” and Fire of Love tells us that even when lava turns all else to ash, love remains.
Pam Grady: Passion for science and each other fueled the careers of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. The Seer and the Unseen director Sara Dosa’s latest documentary is a deep dive into the couple’s work and relationship that blends the Kraffts’ large photographic and cinematic archive, their writing, television appearances, news footage, other archival materials, and animation. While Dosa does a wonderful job in explicating the science about how volcanoes form and what leads to their eruptions and parsing the differences between explosive events, the film’s most dazzling moments belong wholly to the Kraffts as they circle the world, chasing seismic activity, each new occurrence deepening their scientific knowledge and their devotion to one another. Images of Maurice and Katia in front of scarlet lava flows or at the base of gray ash-spewing mountains offer stunning testimony to their extraordinary lives and incandescent romance.
Jennifer Merin Fire Of Love, filmmaker Sara Dosa’s gripping documentary, is an up close and personal with Katia and Maurice Krafft, a devoted couple whose love for monitoring active volcanoes equaled their love for each other. The Kraffts’ dedicated pursuit of their volcanologists’ craft of recording remote and often threatening eruptions has produced an extraordinary wealth of information about how Mother Earth manages what have been throughout the annals of human history referred to as her ‘temper tantrums.’ The Kraffts have saved lives and mitigated disasters. Through extraordinary archival footage, the documentary makes you a witness to active scientific investigation, and it’s fascinating. The Kraffts are always engaging. Their feats are monumental. The film is galvanizing.
Marilyn Ferdinand With Fire of Love, director Sara Dosa pays tribute to the pioneering work of Alsatian vulcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, a married couple—scientists who got as close as possible to upwards of 200 active volcanoes, photographing and filming eruptions, taking samples and readings of lava and gases, and creating books and movies to pay the bills and spread information to lay audiences and scientists alike. Much of the film is composed of the footage they shot themselves. The Kraffts chose their isolated, dangerous life and lived most fully on the lips of the volcanoes that finally gave them the kiss of death. Read full review.
Loren King A brief history of volcanoes and a quirky love story sounds like the stuff of a pitch meeting in a Hollywood spoof. But that’s what we get, and then some, in Sara Dosa’s’s engrossing, elegant, unforgettable Fire of Love. If you’ve never heard of Katia and Maurice Krafft, chemist and geologist, respectively, from Alsace who in the early 1970s started following their passion and became two of the world’s foremost volcano experts, this film is a memorable introduction that will long stay with you. Fire of Love blends extraordinary footage shot on film over many years by the Kraffts of erupting, bubbling volcanos across all corners of the globe mixed with poetic writings narrated by the singular Miranda July. What emerges is a profound meditation on the miraculous melding of kindred spirits who ignited one another’s passion — for their own souls but also for the good of science and humankind.
Leslie Combemale The chemistry between two lovers and how their mutual love of and curiosity about volcanos compels them is what drives Fire of Love, but it’s the spectacular archival footage recorded by Katia and Maurice Krafft that will astound viewers. It should. This is the closest they’ll ever get to a volcano without dying, and it was the Kraffts’ passion for volcanology that birthed these 16-millimeter films. Director Sara Dosa brings that footage and the important lives of two pioneers together, but she does much more with Fire of Love. In virtually every scene, questions about love, our calling as individuals, and following our passion, even knowing the risks are being posed and simultaneously answered. Rarely does a documentary feel so deeply unsettling and inspiring at the same time.
Sandie Angulo Chen: Fire of Love, Sara Dosa’s latest documentary chronicling the relationship between humans and nature is nothing short of extraordinary. She chronicles the remarkable lives of Katia and Maurice Krafft, married Alsatian French volcanologists who dedicated their marriage and career to studying the world’s deadliest volcanoes. Narrated by filmmaker-artist Miranda July, the film uses the couple’s own archives of footage to tell the story of how the two scientists met in college, fell in love, and followed their shared dream of volcanology. Toward the end of the documentary, Maurice is quoted, “Katia, me, and volcanoes, it is a love story.” That’s exactly what Dosa’s film (and its title) captures and pays tribute to – Katia and Maurice’s elemental love. A must-see documentary.
Cate Marquis Volcanoes and love often paired in romantic imagery but Fire of Love documents a real case of volcanic love, that of married volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who loved volcanoes, and each other, more than anything. Even if you have never heard their names, you have likely seen their work, as their breath-taking film footage and still photos of volcanoes erupting have been used countless times in films, as well as appearing in their own documentaries. The couple initially shot the footage as a way to capture complex phenomenon for later scientific analysis, but because they got so close and were so skilled as photographers, the images are astounding, even works of art, in their own right. The insightful, moving documentary FIRE OF LOVE is filled with the Krafft’s fiery and beautiful images, as well as images and a wealth of information on the groundbreaking work and remarkable lives of this scientific couple.
Title: Fire of Love
Director: Sara Dosa
Release Date: July 6, 2022
Running Time: 93 minutes
Screenwriters: Shane Boris, Erin Casper, Jocelyne Chaput
Distribution Company: National Geographic
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Betsy Bozdech, Leslie Combemale, Marilyn Ferdinand, Pam Grady, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sherin Nicole, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna
Edited by Jennifer Merin