While researching the Icelandic landscape for her film The Seer and the Unseen (2019), director Sara Dosa and her team came across spectacular footage from volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, which led to Dara digging further into their work, lives and deaths, and Fire of Love.
Deep in the Krafft rabbit hole, Dosa learned a profound lesson from the couple that she shared with the Sundance audience:
“They taught me that loving the earth also helps us to love each other.”
Fire of Love builds up to the couple’s death, doing what they love, but that is just a small part of the narrative, which instead focuses primarily on their lives and relationship.
The film tells their story through their own photos and video footage from around the world. The majestic, and often frightening, footage is expertly paired with music, animation and narration from indie film star Miranda July, who sounds more low-key and honest than your typical nature-doc “voice of God.”
We learn the several ways the couple may have met, how they first became fascinated by volcanoes (Etna and Stromboli early on) and witness the subtle differences in the ways they approach their work. While Katia prefers taking still photos, focusing on the small details of their science, and writing the books; Maurice shoots video so no aspect is lost, focuses on the grandiose and does most of the public speaking. Maurice also comes off bolder in his research methods, even paddling with a fellow scientist onto an acid lake at one point.
We learn that one won’t work without the other.
Viewers also witness a change in their approach overall, as they turn their attention from the less-dangerous “red” volcanoes to the highly dangerous “grey” volcanoes (think St. Helen’s and Unzen), with a goal of sharing their findings to help save those in the path of destruction.
Add this to your list. With 200-ish hours of footage edited down to about an hour and a half, we can only imagine the sights left on the cutting room floor.
For more reviews from the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, check out the Art and Entertainment section of Salt Lake magazine.