Famous volcanologists shed light in new paper

There’s a curious love triangle at the center of the new documentary “The Fire of Love.” It’s between a man, a woman and a volcano… well, all volcanoes really.

The names may not be particularly well-known today, but in the 1970s and 1980s French scientists Katia Kraft and Maurice Kraft used volcanoes like Jacques Cousteau did for oceans. The couple traveled the world for 20 years to further their education, snapping glasses with 16mm cameras and writing in color about their discoveries until their deaths in 1991 on Mount Unzen in Japan. That day in June, a flow of gas and volcanic material called a lava flow killed 43 people, including Kraftts and American volcanologist Harry Glicken.

Their deaths received worldwide coverage, but their story has fallen somewhat into the popular imagination over the past three decades, despite being highlighted by Werner Herzog in his 2016 documentary Into the Inferno.

Director Sarah Dusa found the Kraft family while filming a previous film about Iceland. The Kraft couple, who first got engaged on Etna and Mount Stromboli and married in 1970, have witnessed around 140 eruptions on every continent except Antarctica and won an Emmy for his National Geographic documentary “Mountains of Fire”. They were famous for dropping everything to reach an active volcano, and were often the first to reach the site. They were also known to want to get dangerously close.

When the pandemic thwarted plans for another project, Dosa remembered this wonderful couple and the stories from hundreds of hours of marvelous images of active volcanoes.

“I am endlessly curious and fascinated by how humans make sense of non-human nature,” Dosa said. “I feel like I was able to see that very nicely in their work. »

And I decided to do something about Kraffts in the spirit of Kraffts. National Geographic Documentary Films and Neon’s “Fire of Love” hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday and in other cities in the coming weeks.

With the help of Image’Est, an archive in Nancy, France, and Maurice Krafft’s brother, Bertrand Krafft, Dosa and his collaborators were able to remotely access more than 180 hours of 16mm footage captured by Kraffts and begin to deconstruct history. together. A line written by Maurice Kraft in one of his books helped justify something Dossa was already going through: that this was a love story.

“I wanted to be a guide to Katya and Morris first and foremost,” Dosa said. “They were very jovial and full of humor. Their jokes are contagious. They are also philosophers. In their writings and recordings, they address existential themes. »

Inspired by the time when the Kraffts were coming of age, Dosa and his team decided to draw on the aesthetics of French Nouvelle Vague films to help set the tone and style of their film, including the split screen and zoom. Dossa said that even their writings reminded him of the romance of François Truffaut’s films. So they delve into the absurdity and depth of this bizarre love triangle with Miranda Julio’s novel “Little Curious” and Nicolas Godin’s original track “Retro Futuristic” on French music duo Air.

“It was important to us, of course, to tell a realistic and accurate story that reflects their lives and experiences. At the same time, we wanted to tell a story that felt real,” Dosa said. “But there is a kind of real spirit in Katya and Morris that goes beyond literal facts. »

In other words, “The Fire of Love” is nothing but an illustrated page on Wikipedia. The film even opens with credits, featuring Katya and Maurice Kraft.

“We kind of wanted to start from the idea that they play themselves from the start. We consider them the authors of their legends and it’s kind of a mythical love story,” Dosa said. “It’s a co-creation, filmed by them and played in them. We just agree on the parts of their lives so the audience can connect. »


Follow AB Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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Famous volcanologists shed light in new paper

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