Sara Dosa’s documentary is an impressive study of love and volcanoes.
Sara Dosa’s unusual documentary Fire of Love, which premiered on the opening night of Sundance Film Festival 2022, uses decades of film to tell the love story of Katia and Maurice Krafft and the strong adoration they both held for volcanoes. Narration from performance artist and filmmaker Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Future) provides a thoughtful context to the visuals, which are primarily composed of movies made by the Kraffts and their friends. While telling the story of this married pair of scientists, the film provides a strong sense of the intense, and immense, power of the natural world.
In the hands of Dosa and the Kraffts, we’re shown the beautiful seduction of a lava flow, the sensuality of new rock created by lava. There’s a compelling wonder to the destructive and creative nature of these volcanoes. July explains, “You fall hard for what you know, harder for what you don’t.” The Kraffts — she a geochemist and he a geologist — are driven to learn as much as they can from studying active volcanoes, yet remain aware of the peril in their “kamikaze existence,” as Maurice would call it.
Editors Erin Casper and Jocelyn Chaput show true insight in their manner of collaging decades-worth of the Kraffts’ films. There’s a keen wit throughout Fire of Love; the novel storytelling style encourages affection for the Kraffts, while also exhibiting the dangers. As the viewer is told of their death early on (Maurice even predicted how he would die), it’s more a question of exactly when than how. There’s no strict chronology to the work, as it wanders through the years by volcano visits and eruptions.
The electronic scoring by French musician Nicolas Godin (of Air) perfectly complements the film. The music amplifies feelings of playfulness, reverence, and contemplation, while also sounding like something of the couple’s time, in the early days of synthesizers. Fire of Love is utterly charming, never twee, and is likely one of the most memorable documentaries I’ll see this year.