SXSW 2022- “Fire of Love” Is An Explosive Archival Affair: Film Review

Throughout history, the power of nature has always been greater than the pursuits of man. However, Sara Dosa’s mesmerizing documentary, Fire of Love, puts humanity and nature on similar footing as it depicts a love story as epic in passion as the raging volcanoes on display in the film.

Fire of Love examines the relationship and careers of Katia & Maurice Krafft, two of the world’s most notable volcanologists. Through extensive archival footage, the film follows the Kraffts as they live by the rhythms of the Earth and discover the unknown wonders of volcanos, as well as the depths of their love for each other.

The 16mm archival footage of volcanic environments that was captured by the Kraffts decades ago is exquisitely utilized in Fire of Love. At times, like when Maurice captures a red lava “river”, the footage is so stunningly raw that it seems like it was taken from an undiscovered planet. The experience is only heightened when the sounds of erupting volcanos are layered in, making your heart pound out of its chest. For these reasons alone, Fire of Love is the first documentary to fully take advantage of the theatrical environment since Free Solo.

Alone they could only dream of volcanoes. Together, they can face them.

Miranda July, Fire of Love

While Fire of Love is a visual marvel and is incredibly informative on the various aspects of volcanos (who knew the many differences between red and gray volcanoes?), Dosa’s latest is an atypical romantic fairytale at its core. Katia and Maurice’s passion for volcanic formations and one another is depicted by Dosa with a magical realism that transports the audience to a beautiful and dangerous wonderland where only the primal elements of nature are present. The epic, bombastic (and occasionally electronic) score is developed to ensure that the Krafft’s relationship is as grandiose as the nature that surrounds them.

Fire of Love is far more than a simple nature documentary as it epically examines not only our world, but those who passionately study it. While the Kraffts may no longer be with us, their love and legacy continues to burn like spewing lava thanks to Dosa’s ravishing documentary.

The Silver Lining

The magical realism present throughout Fire of Love largely has to do with the voiceover work of Miranda July. Just like the films she has directed (Me, You, and Everyone We Know, The Future, Kajillionaire), July imbues her narration of the Kraffts with a sense of wonder and grandiosity that lends the film its fairy tale quality. The already touching sentiments written into the screenplay are made even more poignant thanks to July’s unique sensibilities.

SXSW 2022 official selection, Fire of Love, will release in theaters later this year.

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