The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft: A Movie Review

James Lanternman
6 min readFeb 23
Titan Film Productions/Dumont

A few months ago I went to see Sara Dosa’s Fire of Love — a non-fiction feature about Katia and Maurice Krafft, narrating over mesmerising lava footage from the French volcanologists’ archives.

Its dramatic footage, fascinating facts about one of Earth’s most awesome natural features, and focus on the joyful, adventurous spirit and love between the Kraffts made Dosa’s film one of my favourite cinema visits of 2022.

When I saw the poster for Dosa’s Fire of Love in the cinema listings, I mistook it for Werner Herzog’s latest documentary — which I had already seen the trailer for, and knew was focused on the Kraffts and their footage. I had been keeping an eye out for it, hoping it would pop up in a local movie theatre.

I have been keeping an eye out for Herzog’s film since, curious to see how it compares. As I suspected, The Fire Within skipped a cinema run and went directly to television through distributors such as BBC Storyville and ARTE.

Cinema distribution is fucked… but that’s a topic in itself.

The Kraffts spent their lives studying and filming volcanoes, their effects on nature, people, and the wildlife around them, with something of a zeal. They died together in a volcanic eruption in Japan on June 3, 1991, leaving behind an incredible archive that included unreleased footage.

It is unusual to have two non-fiction films cover the same subject and be released so close together. It is also kind of amazing. If you like one, see the other — you’re almost guaranteed to like it, too. Each expands and deepens the Krafft story and view of their work, and brings a distinct perspective. Together they create a birds-eye view taken from 2022, about thirty years after the fact.

Broadly, Dosa’s film focuses on love, and Herzog’s on death. The two great mysteries and subjects. Both filmmakers are genuinely enthralled with the magic contained in the footage itself.

Credit: Titan Film Productions/Dumont
Titan Film Productions/Dumont

As much as I appreciated and enjoyed the tone of narration in Fire of Love, nobody narrates like Werner…

James Lanternman

Movie reviews, essays, and moonlit thoughts.