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A celebrity volcanologist couple spotlighted in new doc


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A peculiar love triangle is at the center of the new documentary, Fire of Love. It’s between a man, a woman and a volcano. Well, all volcanoes really.

These names may not be particularly famous today, but in the 1970s and 1980s French scientists Katia Krafft and Maurice Krafft were to volcanoes what Jacques Cousteau was to the ocean. The married couple traveled the world for about 20 years to pursue their studies, capturing glasses with a 16mm camera and writing about their findings in rich colour, until their death in 1991 in Mount Unzen, Japan. That June day, a stream of gas and volcanic material known as a pyroclastic flow claimed 43 lives, including Krafts and American volcanologist Harry Glickon.

Their deaths have been reported globally, but their stories have diminished in the popular imagination over the past three decades, although Werner Herzog did focus on them in his 2016 documentary Into Hell. .

Filmmaker Sara Dosa stumbled upon the Krafts while making an early film about Iceland. Originally married on Mount Etna and Stromboli and married in 1970, the Krafts have witnessed about 140 volcanic eruptions on every continent except Antarctica, and with their National Geographic documentary” “Mountain of Fire” won an Emmy. They’ve been known to give up everything to get to an active volcano, and are often the first to arrive at the site. They are also known for being willing to approach dangerously.

When the pandemic disrupted plans for another project, Doza remembered the story of the charming couple and their hundreds of hours of relaxing footage of beautiful active volcanoes.

“I’m curious and fascinated by how humans create meaning from inhumanity,” Dosa said. “I feel like I have to see that so beautifully in their work.”

She began to do something for the Krafts in the Kraft’s spirit. “Fire of Love,” from the National Geographic documentary and Neon, opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday, with more cities to follow in the coming weeks.

With the help of Bertrand Krafft, brother of Image’Est and Maurice Krafft’s brother, Image’Est, in Nancy, France, Dosa and her collaborators were able to remotely access more than 180 hours of 16mm footage captured by Krafft and begin to piece the story together. A line written by Maurice Krafft in one of his books helps demonstrate what Dosa was already doing: it’s a love story.

“I first wanted to get guidance from Katia and Maurice,” Dosa said. “They were very playful and full of humor. Their jokes were infectious. They were also philosophical. In their writings and recordings, they grappled with existential themes.”

Drawing inspiration from the Krafts’ coming of age, Dosa and her team decided to draw on the aesthetics of French New Wave cinema to help shape the film’s tone and style, including playful split screens and zooms. Even their work reminds her of narratives in François Truffaut’s films, Dossa said. So they delved into the absurdity and depth of this bizarre love triangle through Miranda July’s “Stupid Curious” narration and French music duo Air’s original “retro-futuristic” soundtrack by Nicolas Godin.

“Certainly, it was important to us to tell a story that was true, accurate, and reflected their life and life experiences. At the same time, we wanted to tell a true story,” Dosa said. “But Katia and Morris have a real spirit that goes beyond the literal.”

In other words, “Fire of Love” is by no means a shot of a Wikipedia page. The film even opens with a credit card starring “Katia and Maurice Craft.”

“We wanted to gravitate towards the idea that they played themselves at an early stage. We saw them as the authors of our own myth, which was a mythical love story,” Dosa said. “It’s a co-creation, shot and starring by them. We just string together snippets of their lives for the audience to connect with.”

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