Fire of Love is an incredibly sweet and intriguing documentary about a volcanologist couple who devoted their lives to studying volcanic eruptions. It’s established early in the film that Katia and Maurice Krafft were killed in the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan. The majority of what the documentary shows us is from their beautiful volcano footage throughout their careers.
Like all great couples, there is a balance between them. Katia is quieter, more reflective, studying the geological formations up close and trying to find their mysteries through photography and writing. Maurice is more grandiose, documenting the kinetic movement of eruptions and lava flows through film and out in front of cameras promoting their newest books and documentaries. Maurice is also more of a daredevil, at one point taking a second-hand inflatable dinghy out on an acidic lake to collect samples. Katia anxiously stands on the shore, hoping they make it back before the boat springs a catastrophic leak.
The information presented on volcanoes is minimal, focusing more on spectacular images captured by the Krafft’s, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. While these images may be older, and found on old film reels, they are stunning. The magnificent views of glowing lava, flowing, spewing and burning are amazing and never made me question the quality of the Kraffts camera. And it is heroic how close the Kraffts were willing to get to these active volcanoes, even donning suits to protect them from projectile rocks and lava that look like something out of a 50s B sci-fi movie.
For me, the real tragedy of this film is not Maurice and Katia’s death, but the fact that they could not spend more of their time on earth in volcanoes. Towards the middle of the film, we are shown their life when they’re not by volcanoes. The fact that there are still bills to pay by writing books or editing film feels so mundane when you’ve been in the beating heart of an active volcano. It’s tragic to think how we all waste so much time on the humdrum money-making tasks just to survive, when we could be out in the fantastic wilds of nature truly living.
“Alone they could only dream of volcanoes. Together they can reach them.”