One and a half minutes into the film you are told that tomorrow will be Katia and Maurice Krafft’s, the real-life volcanologists of this film, last day. Throughout the movie you are wondering who pushed who. They do admit their relationship is volcanic and they do walk uncomfortably close to the edge of gaping, boiling, spitting-fire volcanic calderas.
As soon as we’re told the ending we are switched to the life story of these two French risk-takers. Katia, once in a school for unruly girls, was a geochemist and consistently worried that she would one day lose track of Maurice, who habitually wandered off at eruption sites.
Maurice was a geologist. At one point, when Katia is dressed up in a heat-resistance silver suit, he throws a big rock at her helmet almost knocking her off a cliff. He’s the teaser.
Though married, they were firm in their decision not to have children. Instead, they would devote their lives to studying active volcanoes. Katia had graduated from the University of Strasbourg with degrees in physics and chemistry. Maurice had studied geology at the same university.
They both obsessively recorded their spectacularly dangerous volcano adventures. Over time Maurice took hundreds of hours of video footage and Katia took thousands of stills. In order to finance their expeditions, she wrote books and produced a 1973 video for PBS while he gave lectures around the world.
The close-up volcanic eruptions and what we are taught about volcanoes, like which kind are the killers and which are predictable, are arresting. But all along we are wondering how Maurice and Katia die when they appear so happy in footage captured the day before their death.
Sara Dosa, the director, specializes “in telling unexpected character-driven stories about ecology, economy and community.” In “Fire of Love” she has dramatically foreshadowed and propelled an exciting investigation into volcanoes and volcanologists by focusing on Katia and Maurice and their unfortunate demise.
On Variety’s list for the top five 2023 Academy Award documentary nominations, “Fire of Love” is a visual cinematic masterpiece of volcano science colliding with true story-telling, thanks to the leadership of Dosa and the painstaking editing genius of Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput. Miranda July, with her haunting melancholy voice, is the perfect narrator. Distributed by National Geographic and Neon, “Fire of Love” is documentary-making at its best.
Director: Sara Dosa
Writers: Sara Dosa, Shane Boris, Erin Casper and Jocelyn Chaput
Producers: Shane Boris, Sara Dosa and Ina Fichman
Editors: Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput
Music: Nicolas Godin
Production Companies: Sandbox Films, Intuitie Pictures and Cottage M
Distributors: National Geographic Documentary Films and Neon
US Release: July 6, 2022, and released on SVOD to Disney+ on Nov. 11, 2022.
Official Website: https://films.nationalgeographic.com/fire-of-love
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