DIRECTOR: Sara Dosa

CAST: Maurice Krafft, Katia Krafft, Miranda July

RUNNING TIME: 93 mins

CERTIFICATE: PG

BASICALLY…: Maurice and Katia Krafft spend their lives together exploring the wonders of volcanoes…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

As the title may suggest, filmmaker Sara Dosa’s documentary Fire of Love is a love story… but not quite the one you might be expecting. Sure, the film is about a couple who met, became smitten, got married and spent the rest of their lives together, but the real source of affection is for their shared passion, which so happens to be exploring some of the most dangerous volcanoes on the planet. This is also the angle from which Dosa charges head-first, telling the story of two people driven by their love for lava, and the many scientific wonders it can produce, while also keeping it fully focused on their lifelong mission to learn more about the world around us all.

The film is fully comprised of footage that our main couple – volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft – shot over their many, many years of scientific observation, with narration by fellow filmmaker Miranda July filling in some of the gaps, such as their first initial date (the details of which are rather scarce) and how their findings made them unlikely rock stars in the field of volcanology. Fire of Love splits time between exploring the amiable, unconditional relationship between the Kraffts themselves, and detailing the various volcanoes all over the world that they went out to investigate, leading up to the tragic incident in 1991 when the eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan claimed their lives. That’s not exactly a spoiler, by the way, since their deaths are not only public knowledge but also one of the first things that are eluded to in the film, as it opens with footage of the Kraffts on what is described as their last day alive.

Regardless of knowing how this particular story turns out, Fire of Love is a strongly put-together film that combines some absolutely stunning footage of volcanic activity, from the rivers of flowing molten lava to the menacing smoke rising up into the sky, and a universal love story about a pair drawn together by their shared passion. For most of it, you’re left utterly entranced by the beautiful imagery that Maurice and Katia captured which would make any nature documentarian lava-red with envy, but also rather moved by how sweet and caring these two people genuinely seem to be with each other, and how completely content they are with just being themselves in a world where their passion is not immediately seen as an entirely normal one. Dosa does well to capture their professional and personal investment in the dangerous art of volcano chasing, and right up to the end you can feel their determination for the activity, including a desire to change the way that everyone thinks about volcanoes, many of which they feel aren’t as ferocious as they might at first seem (although, and even they point this out, they’re still extremely dangerous and even deadly to be around).

The film’s structure is rather loose, however, and sometimes you can sense some of the seismic wobbling that Dosa struggles to contain, particularly as it flows a little more aimlessly towards a solid conclusion in the final stretch. Some of the narration, which Dosa co-wrote with Shane Boris, Erin Casper and Jocelyn Chaput, can also feel a bit overwrought with some of its points needlessly hammered in next to visuals which are already working well enough on their own, and fair play to Miranda July for bringing her dry dialect to the film’s main narrative voice, but it is dry nonetheless, to a point where some of the more romantic lines don’t land as emotionally as they’re clearly written to be.

It’s all stuff which can easily be tolerated, though, and doesn’t distract from the raw visual power that Fire of Love can proudly boast, not to mention its powerful and unique angle that gives viewers the chance to meet and know two people whose love – for each other, and their precious volcanoes – burned brighter than anyone could have thought possible.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Fire of Love is a visually stunning nature documentary that features some breath-taking volcano footage, as captured by volcanologist couple Maurice and Katia Krafft whose love story forms a pleasant, if occasionally overwrought, angle to the fiery proceedings.

Fire of Love is now showing in cinemas nationwide – click here to find a screening near you!

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