Filled with breathtaking footage and making use of skillful editing, tranquil, thoughtful music, and gorgeously poetic narration, this documentary merges science, nature, and romance. The decision to use actor-artist-filmmaker Miranda July to narrate Fire of Love was inspired; her delicate, melancholy, almost whispered line readings lend a sense of the ethereal to the movie, casting the images in an existential light. Again and again, as the movie describes Maurice and Katia's singular focus on their studies, July's voicework and the expert filmmaking help us understand the draw. (The Kraffts were also discussed in Werner Herzog's volcano documentary Into the Inferno.)
The footage, much of it shot by the Kraffts themselves, is glorious, and it's easy to agree with Maurice when he asserts that volcanos are the most beautiful things on earth. And, as July says in her narration, the camera loves these two. Maurice is like a roly-poly Teddy Bear, and Katia gazes at life through her huge spectacles. If Fire of Love has a flaw, it's that there's too much fire and too little love. Director Dosa is limited to archival footage -- the movie makes no secret of the fact that Katia and Maurice are gone -- and much of it features one Krafft or the other, but rarely both. There are only fleeting glimpses of what their personal and romantic relationship must have been like. Even so, the film is moving on a human level, and awesome on a cosmic level.