Fire Of Love: A Reflection On Volcanologists Eternal Relationship

Sundance Film Festival: Asia 2022 features a National Geographic documentary, Fire Of Love, an endless summer romance tale masquerading as a picturesque record of how volcanoes work.

No, Fire Of Love is not a documentary about Katia and Maurice’s lives. This is not a regular love story. Director Sara Dosa tells the story of the late Katia and Maurice Krafft, two French volcanologists who were pioneers in volcanic photography and cinematography. The two fell in love through their shared passion for volcanoes and died within inches from it in a pyroclastic flow.

There are no accompanying interviews with surviving relatives. The loose narrative plot is driven by the voice of a narrator who reads out of a fictional journalistic account (the voice of Miranda July). The boring practicalities of day-to-day living that perhaps form most of the couple’s lives are given about 5 minutes of screentime. Rather, it focuses almost entirely on their biggest passion: volcanoes, and each other.

The lenses of their camera always readily point at precious moments from their routine field trips to the most dangerous places on the planet. Indeed, most of the footages in Fire of Love are shown through the lenses of Katia and Maurice’s camera.

A scene from Fire Of Love (2022), part of Sundance Film Festival: Asia 2022 selection (credit: Sundance Film Festival Asia 2022)

The camera often peers curiously into the volcano, conveying the curiosity of one so helplessly enchanted by it. What is the motivation behind their passion for such a dangerous element? What kind of euphoria could they possibly experience from it? We can only wonder. These are questions that director Sara Dosa skillfully answers by way of montage and music editing that is best felt than told.

Ultimately there is no more satisfying explanation to that than the exceedingly beautiful imageries of volatile lava waves, unfurling and crashing. Deadly, all consuming, and sublime. Perhaps director Sara Dosa wants to convey the feeling of being seized in a euphoria of love. It defies explanations, and seem to move in a time of its own, creating the illusion of eternity. And that illusion never dies in Fire of Love, as Katia and Maurice’s legacy far outlive their mortal bodies.

One wishing for a more straightforward documentary fare may find this watch a bit challenging. One looking to drown themselves in a gentle wave of audiovisual sensory experience may remember it for a long time.

Fire Of Love is truly a treat for the eyes.

Yusgunawan Marto, Jakarta Cinema Club

Yusgunawan is a Director/Cinematographer at NYRA and senior writer at Jakarta Cinema Club. Also read: Loveless: Ballads of The Incompetent Parents

Q&A with Fire of Love film director Sara Dosa and Director of Programming Sundance Institute Kim Yutani

The film screening of Fire of Love marks the first day of 2022 Sundance Film Festival: Asia 2022. Fire of Love tells the story about a couple who 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. Alongside the screening, 2022 Sundance Film Festival: Asia hosts a question and answer session with Fire of Love film director Sara Dosa and Director of Programming Sundance Institute Kim Yutani.

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