Fire of Love
On 3rd June 1991, volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft lost their lives while studying the eruption of Japan’s Mount Unzen. The couple dedicated their lives to volcanoes, travelling the world in pursuit of the next eruption. They dared to get closer to the action than anyone else to capture the majesty and violent beauty of molten lava and fire on film, which they had hundreds of hours of. It’s this archival footage which documentarian Sara Dosa has compiled to tell their story in Fire of Love, a tale of danger, spectacle and a fiery romance that the most powerful forces in nature couldn’t end.
Told almost exclusively through the Kraffts’ own footage, Fire of Love’s character study of lovers endangering themselves to live out their dreams bears a striking similarity to Herzog’s Grizzly Man which recounted the tale of ill-fated activists Timothy Treadwell and Amy Huguenard while living with grizzly bears. Unlike Herzog’s film, Dosa excludes herself from the frame. Instead, the Kraffts’ story is told through poetic narration spoken by Miranda July, alongside actors reading accounts written by the couple. The result is an intimate project that brings viewers into the inner circle of their relationship, where their love for each other is only matched by their fascination with volcanology.
Images of Katia, standing what must be only metres from spewing lava and close-ups of volcanic explosions, articulate a spectacular and wondrous sense of scale. Though not filmmakers by trade, the Kraffts nevertheless had a natural knack for cinematography. This is a documentary that’s made to be seen on the biggest screen possible for viewers to come close to experiencing the magnitude of these sights as those who filmed them. However, as staggering as the visuals are, the very real dangers they represent are never far from our minds. Footage of the devastation and destruction left behind by catastrophic eruptions underscores the harrowing reality they pose to life, as well as how powerless humanity is against the earth beneath our feet.
A romance forged by and ultimately destroyed by passion, Dosa’s Fire of Love is one of those rare documentaries that arrives once or twice a decade to leave audiences awe-struck by its wonder and terrors. It is the Grizzly Man of volcanoes.
Fire of Love is released nationwide on 29th July 2022.
Watch the trailer for Fire of Love here: