Andrea’s film review – Fire of Love

Fire of Love ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Intrepid scientists and lovers Katia and Maurice Krafft died in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: unraveling the mysteries of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. In Selected cinemas from Friday.

Fire of Love, the latest documentary by National Geographic to be released on the big screen, is as much about volcanos, with their mesmerizing beauty and their terrifying and devastating power, as it is about a love story between Maurice and Katia Krafft, a French married couple who spent most of their lives between the 1970s and ’80s studying eruptions.

Director Sara Dosa draws from around 200 hours of 16mm footage, as well as existing archival material, including interviews with the Kraffts themselves, the books they wrote and extracts from their own diaries, to chronicle their passion for volcanology and their own personal story.

The film showcases stunning images and provides fascinating insight into the workings of volcanos through their findings and their meticulous research.

A whimsical and rather dead-pan voice-over (by actress Miranda July), adds a sort of poetic feel the whole thing, capturing more the mood rather than the facts, making it feel at times more like a meditation on love than a real nature documentary.

It’s the sort of sensibility often found in documentaries by Werner Herzog (but less pompous), which is ironic since his latest one (to be released very soon) is actually exactly on the same subject and the same two people and it’s going to be called The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft.

What are the chances? It must have something to do with volcanos. Do you remember when Deep Impact and Armageddon got released only months apart?

Anyway, back to this film, the director calls this “a love triangle”(in the best French film tradition), between the married couple and the volcanos themselves. And love is clearly the driving force at the centre of all this.

Cleverly Sara Dosa makes a decision only to use contemporary footage, mostly filmed by the Kraffts themselves, to really immerse the viewer in what it must have felt like for them to be so close to their subjects.

Watching the astonishing footage is easy to understand their infatuation. Alas, a dangerous one, especially in the time before drones and mechanical robots which would eventually make things easier for volcanologists.

Back then the Kraffts’ were risking their lives every day, something they were very aware of and in fact they seemed to have made peace with that possibility.

Indeed only six minutes into the film we are shown the Kraffts at the base of Japan’s Mount Unzen in 1991 and we are told “this is will be their last day”.

With this knowledge, we watch the rest of the film unfold with a heavy heart as every line is tinted by a certain sadness because of that baggage.

It is still a lovely, gentle watch and with just the right amount of whimsical flair without being annoying or pretentious.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Fire of Love is available to watch in selected cinemas from Friday.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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