When so many film romances are boiled down to two Marvel stars flirting onscreen (as chastely as possible) it’s nice to find a film that truly displays a couple that radiates undying love. As explosive as it is contemplative, Sara Dosa’s new documentary, Fire of Love, is a beautiful contemplation of the relationship between humanity and nature, humanity and danger, and with one another. Following volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, the film goes on a journey from the inconsistent origin stories of the power couple to their antics as a power couple obsessed with first the science of the Earth cracking open and second with saving lives.
Dosa found the Krafft’s while working on her documentary The Seer & The Unseen. Digging through footage for a volcanic explosion to add to a compilation, she stumbled upon a charming young duo that had shot thousands of photos and weeks of film that fit her needs. Upon closer inspection she discovered that this couple was none other than the Kraffts, legends in their own community and documentarians that had gone out of their way to try to prevent tragedy by spreading their knowledge through film. These two ghosts, leftover souls of two people that perished side-by-side at the Mount Unzen explotion in Japan, began to haunt the director. We are now allowed to be haunted by them as well.
Starting in the 1970s and following them all the way up to their deaths in 1991, Dosa weaves us through a romance that could begin in a coffee shop, could weave through civil rights protests, but ultimately ends where it always had to – the lip of a volcano, iron-clad heads walking as near to falling “volcanic bombs” as they can feasibly get. Much of the footage is merely the imagery captured by Maurice, a daredevil that is obsessed with getting as close to the big moment as possible, while the still images are snapped by Katia’s focused eye. The two experience highs and lows, from the silliness of two men in a rubber boat floating on a lake of sulfiric acid to the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which killed 22,000 people after volcanologists (including Katia and Maurice) warned the government in Columbia to evacuate the area and said government determined that would be too costly.
These moments, captured so perfectly be the couple, are distilled into a brief 90 minutes by Dosa without losing any of their impact. Gripping, touching, and extremely exciting, Fire of Love is an absolutely stunning film that seeps into its audiences and doesn’t let go far beyond the end of its credits.
Fire of Love will eventually stream on Disney+, but you can currently find it in select theatres.