Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Sara Dosa Shares the Light and the Heat in Volcanology Doc ‘Fire of Love’

Cinema | January 23rd, 2022

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

No doubt many cinephiles first encountered the tale of the charismatic French volcanologist couple Katia and Maurice Krafft in Werner Herzog’s 2016 “Into the Inferno,” itself a spectacular meditation on the terrible wonders of pyroclastic flow. Another group would have made the acquaintance of the scientist-adventurers through the 1987 ”Nature” episode “Volcano Watchers,” broadcast just four years before their deaths on June 3, 1991 in the eruption of Japan’s Mount Unzen. Documentary filmmaker Sara Dosa honors the legacy of the intrepid pair in “Fire of Love,” her entertaining and accomplished master class in assemblage. The film was one of the opening night features of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

The Kraffts may be better known in their native France than in the United States, but American viewers will immediately recognize a kinship with Jacques Cousteau, arguably the most famous of the do-it-yourself conservation and ecology heroes of the second half of the 20th century (and the subject of “Becoming Cousteau,” the recent documentary by Liz Garbus). Dosa, like Wes Anderson in “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” seizes on the stylish allure of entrepreneurship: authoring books, delivering lectures, making regular appearances on talk shows, and writing, producing, photographing, and editing educational nature films are all part of the enterprise.

Dosa also embraces an Andersonian appreciation for filmmaking focused on Gen X childhood nostalgia – as well as the kind of deep Francophilia on display in “The French Dispatch” – illuminating Katia and Maurice as hip avatars of the intellectual godhood of physics, chemistry, and geology. In their Team Zissou-esque matching red stocking caps, the Kraffts and their collaborators perform all sorts of colorful and hair-raising experiments that, at least for the less sensible Maurice, appear to be as much about playing to the camera as they are about hard research and data collection. At one point, Maurice floats out on a lake of sulfuric acid in a rubber raft, leaving a furious Katia fretting on the shore.

The partnership of the Kraffts is, of course, the film’s raison d'être, and Dosa is fully aware that the rarity of the single-minded lovers is the heart and soul of her film. Katia and Maurice are equally obsessed by and addicted to the awesome power of volcanic activity. They speak a special language with a certain vocabulary known only to the other. In one sense, Maurice and Katia experience an ongoing, romantic ménage à trois with the volcanoes, although Maurice never did accomplish his impossible dream of inventing a lava-proof kayak/bubble that would allow him to ride directly atop a molten river.

The morbidly curious might tune in to see how Dosa handles the tragic final moments of the Kraffts (Katia was 49 and Maurice was 45 when they died). She does, but with tastefulness and grace, preferring instead to emphasize the joy and passion they applied to their vocation. Dosa’s decision to enlist Miranda July as the film’s narrator is absolutely perfect. And the incredible soundtrack, which uses needle-drops by Air and Brian Eno in between Nicolas Godin’s retrofuturistic flourishes, deserves a deluxe Mondo pressing on vinyl. 

Recently in:

By Maddie Robinsonmaddierobi.mr@gmail.com This article discusses topics related to mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. …

Need more events? Check out our July 2024 and August 2024 calendars. (They're cleverly split up to save you some scrolling.)MaySpring CrowsNow - June 28, Spirit Room, FargoForty artists display works centered around a crow theme.…

June 2211 a.m - 3 p.m. and 3- 6 p.m.Words To Live By Bookstore819 Center Avenue, MoorheadThe Moorhead Friends Writing Group (MFWG) is a group of 40 writers in 13 states and Canada. They have recently published their third…

The WFF Unified School District?By John Strandjas@hpr1.com Both the Fargo and West Fargo School Districts are strategizing their futures. This is necessary, because of immensely challenging financial and geopolitical changes facing…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comShould ‘The Chosen One’ be Sentenced to Spend Months at each Level?It’s not unusual on this planet, we have had hundreds of men and a couple of women who have used religion to become…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

HPR chats with Bob Carpenter of the Nitty Gritty Dirt BandBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com When asked if it was fair to consider the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as “the godfathers of contemporary Americana” during our interview,…

Now playing at the Fargo Theatre.By Greg Carlson gregcarlson1@gmail.comPalme d’Or recipient “Anatomy of a Fall” is now enjoying an award-season victory tour, recently picking up Golden Globe wins for both screenplay and…

New Minnesota sculptures include artist’s largest trollBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com According to Danish artist and environmental activist Thomas Dambo, “All trash is treasure.” So far, he and his team have built 138…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.com I am an old man. I have been a politics junkie most of my life. I have been involved in many campaigns, but have not run for office myself. Each time someone has suggested I do that, I tell them…