In Fire Of Love, Filmmaker Sara Dosa uses archive footage to celebrate the work of Katia and Maurice Krafft, the French married couple who pioneered the study of volcanoes by documenting them through film and photography. Their partnership would lead them to the most dangerous environments on Earth in search of new information that went on to save the lives of millions.
The shadow of documentary god Werner Herzog looms largely over the production, for two reasons. Firstly, the veteran filmmaker has covered this subject already in two films, The Fire Within and more directly Into The Inferno. Secondly, Dosa’s film strongly resembles his 2005 work Grizzly Man, in the way it observes people who dance the line between vocation and obsession.
Still, Herzog’s not a bad inspiration. The many hours of stunning footage taken by The Kraffts includes images of the couple holding hands as they stare into the lava, entranced by the powerful force and determined to understand it, no matter the risks. While Maurice may be more cavalier than Katia, both share that passion, which turns to urgency as they work to try to predict eruptions to help save lives.
Filmmaker Miranda July narrates, aiming for the same understated wonder of Herzog but falling short. The script throws up some wonderful turns of phrase (“understanding is love’s other name”), but her scratchy tone doesn’t match the majesty of what we are seeing. It’s puzzling why Dosa didn’t use the many recordings of the Kraffts featured to form their own narrative backbone.
The delivery wavers, and at times it’s difficult to decide if these two are courageous or foolhardy, but even so, Fire of Love is a remarkable story. Most importantly, it highlights the bravery of those who help us understand the power of the natural world.
Fire of Love is in cinemas from 29 July. Read more from City A.M. Culture