Directed by Sara Dosa and written by Dosa, Shane Boris, Eric Casper, and Jocelyne Chaput, Fire of Love is the story about the life and career of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft who spend their lives studying the world of active volcanoes. The film chronicles how they met and their life studying volcanoes that lead to their untimely death during the eruption of Mount Unzen in 1991 as it is narrated by actress/filmmaker Miranda July. The result is a rapturous and evocative film from Sara Dosa.
The film follows the lives and work of Katia and Maurice Krafft as they were renowned volcanologists who would travel around the world to explore the world of volcanoes and what makes them active as well as the dangers of their destruction. Since their meeting in 1966 at the University of Strasbourg, the two had a fascination for volcanos with Katia being a chemistry/physics student and Maurice studying geology. Yet, it is their encounters with volcanoes as children that bonded them as they would marry in 1970 and had their honeymoon at Stromboli, Italy which Maurice had been to when he was 7 as they studied the volcano that was still active. This would lead to them traveling all over the world to go to various active volcanoes whenever they would erupt or start to erupt as they would do everything to study. Even by taking photographs and filming them with the former used for books and the latter for documentary films as a way to make money.
The film would largely use archival footage from the Krafft family estate even though Katia and Maurice never had children but also footage from French television and other bits with text written by the Kraffts that are spoken through French actors. Director Sara Dosa uses all of the footage and text from their books to have them tell the story with Miranda July providing narration as it play into ideas of how they met and what is Katia and Maurice thinking when they’re together or apart. Even as there is footage of them from various volcanic events such as trips to Zaire at Mount Nyiragongo in 1973 and 1977 with the latter having them explore the severity of its eruption as well as one of them in 1979 in Indonesia where Maurice wanted to study more on its sulfuric acid despite Katia’s protests. Then there’s the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption as it would be this turning point for both of them in wanting to know more about volcanoes that shoots up ash instead of lava as they feel they’re more dangerous than the ones with lava.
Dosa would use some hand-drawn animation by Rui Ting Ji and Lucy Munger to help explain their theories on volcanic activity with Katia traveling to Armero, Colombia in November of 1985 following its own volcanic event after authorities ignored warnings from her and other volcanologist about its impending eruption that left 25,000 people dead. A warning that the people in the Philippines followed in 1991 during the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Dosa uses not just archival footage and scientific diagrams and such to showcase everything that the Kraffts have unveiled but also their own views on humanity as they admit to have issues in understanding humanity which is why they preferred volcanoes. Editors Eric Casper and Jocelyne Chaput would do a lot in not just cultivating much of the footage that Maurice shot in the documentaries but also in Katia’s pictures for some montages including the last footage of the Kraffts alive on June 3, 1991 at Mount Unzen, Japan before they were killed by the pyroclastic flow from that volcano’s eruption.
Sound designer Patrice Leblanc would cultivate all of the audio from their audio interviews and such including in some of the documentaries they did that would narrate the power of volcanoes. The film’s music by Nicolas Godin of Air is a mixture of offbeat orchestral music, electronics, and ambient music with bits of rock while its soundtrack is a mixture of French pop, classical, and music from his band Air as well as a piece by Ennio Morricone.
Fire of Love is a tremendous film from Sara Dosa. It is a film that isn’t just this unique documentary about two volcanologists and their fascination with volcanos but also a love story about two people who share two loves for themselves and volcanoes. It is also a film that shows the great lengths Katia and Maurice Krafft would go to explore volcanoes and tell a story of their importance to the world. In the end, Fire of Love is an outstanding film from Sara Dosa.
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