Everyone who begins to take their first steps in volcanology learns the story of Katia and Maurice Krafft. Volcanology is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, but it is often done from behind a desk – by observing seismic measurements or satellite photos. Katia and Maurice did not want to sit behind the desk. They studied the volcanoes up close. “Volcano of love” is about this closeness. Not only between the two – partners in life and work. Also about closeness in this peculiar love triangle, because, as we quickly learn, volcanoes were for them something much more serious than a mountain filled with magma.

Listening to Katia and Maurice’s statements, we learn that they were emotionally connected with the volcanoes. Strongly personifying them, they approached them more like living organisms or huge, dangerous animals that could be tamed. I understand it perfectly well, because I think and talk about volcanoes basically as about people. I often use statements such as “the volcano allowed me” or “alone with the volcano”, feeling a specific emotional connection with this dangerous, fire-breathing mountain. However, the relationship and behavior of the couple to these beautiful geological formations reminded me very much of what we can see in Herzog’s documentary “Grizzly Man.” Timothy Treadwell, in love with these dangerous giants, also came so close to them that it finally killed him. But looking at “Volcano of Love” and learning about the history of French volcanologists, I finally said aloud: “they could not have died otherwise – only together and under the volcano.”

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So “Volcano of Love” is a beautiful love story with beautiful pictures. Katia and Maurice were filmmakers and photographers as good as volcanologists. Hundreds of hours of close-up shots of the volcanoes make an electrifying impression. I think I watched most of the movie with my mouth open with delight. The mesmerizing beauty on the screen allows you to understand their fascination with volcanoes. Terror mixes with delight, curiosity with anxiety. Because volcanoes are like that. This primal force makes contact with them an existential experience. And certainly addictive.

Sara Dosa, the documentary director, did a titanic job selecting and editing the material collected by the Kraffts, leading us into an engaging narrative. The graphics and animations that enrich the history only underline the uniqueness of this story. It is a pity that the sound in the film is largely foleys, I missed field recordings with the actual sound of the lava. Next time – I recommend myself!

Sound of lava from Fargadalsfjall volcano in Iceland

“Volcano of Love” will be included in my personal ranking as one of the most important films. I’m obsessed with volcanoes, so watching it felt like a kid in a toy store. But I am also convinced that if someone is not yet fascinated by volcanoes and does not understand their phenomenon – watching this movie will definitely change him.

Kaśka Paluch

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