Fire of Love (2022)
Directed by: Sara Dosa
Premise: A documentary about Katia and Maurice Krafft, volcanologists who spent their lives documenting extraordinary images of live volcanoes and other geological wonders.
What Works: Fire of Love is a portrait of two people who shared a similar passion. Katia and Maurice Krafft were volcanologists who were active in the 1970s and 80s. According to the film, the Kraffts lived a mostly nomadic existence, traveling between volcanic sites, taking measurements and samples, and documenting their travels on film. The Kraffts partially supported themselves through their footage and they learned to perform for the camera. They didn’t do anything excessively foolhardy but they were daring and put themselves at some risk and the result was exceptional footage. Fire of Love explains what the Kraffts were up to in a way that is accessible to general audiences. The narration is straightforward and restrained with economy of language, giving us enough information to understand what we are seeing but allowing that imagery to speak for itself. Fire of Love is organized in a way that gives the narrative a dramatic shape and qualifies what the Krafft’s contributed to their field and to public safety. The footage of live volcanos and the Krafft’s daring is certainly cinematic but the most engaging aspect of Fire of Love is understated. The Krafft’s lives were dedicated to their passion for each other and their fascination with volcanos. Fire of Love is a portrait of the smallness and transience of human endeavors against the larger backdrop of geologic time and the forces of nature. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition that is in its own way romantic.
What Doesn’t: Fire of Love documents what Katia and Maurice Krafft did throughout their life but we don’t get much sense of who they actually were as individuals. The narration tells us things about them; Katia was a chemist and had a careful demeanor whereas Maurice was a geologist who was daring and impulsive. But that’s about as deep into these people as the filmmakers are able to venture. We also don’t get much about them as a couple. They loved volcanos but it’s never clear what drew Katia and Maurice together beyond that. Had the documentary been able to get deeper into their relationship, the contrast between their intimacy and the scale of time and worldly events would have been even more pronounced.
Disc extras: On Disney+.
Bottom Line: Fire of Love is a romantic documentary. It’s informative but what really makes an impression is the emotional and humanistic story of these people and their love for each other and their passion for exploring the natural world set against the scale of geologic events.
Episode: #928 (November 20, 2022)