The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft

The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft captures the beauty of volcanoes and the tragedy that fell before the Krafft’s.

The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft was screened as part of Sheffield DocFest. All words of this review were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.

The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft, directed by Werner Herzog is the latest addition to his portfolio of documentary filmmaking, this time his narration adds context to the landscape and beauty of the inferno that Katia and Maurice Krafft became engrossed in.

Curiously this is the second film released this year on the festival circuit telling the story of the late volcano enthusiasts of Katia and Maurice Krafft with Fire of Love, directed by Sara Dosa gathering a warm reception after its premiere at Sundance earlier this year.

Instead, Herzog shifts the 16mm lens of Katia’s footage from the volcanos and her love for Maurice onto the beauty and magnitude of the situations they found themselves in.

What this results in, unfortunately, is a jumbled, nonlinear highlight reel of magma, eruptions, and perilous situations for the Krafft’s that would better be demonstrated on NatGeo than tarnished by Herzog’s typical voiceover.

One could argue that The Fire Within is a celebratory expression of life for the Krafft’s, as Herzog uses his platform and status as a world-renowned documentarian to give a pedestal to the late volcanologists, but it fails to truly tell the story of how exactly the Krafft’s found themselves the victim of a pyroclastic flow, nor really cementing itself with one thread long enough to contextualise its subjects, the projected celluloid solely becomes an artistic window into their obsession.

This was what Herzog sought to achieve. Post-humorous documentation of the beauty of life.

One that shows the severity of volcanic ash, the naivety of being an originator of ideas, and one that pushes the boundaries of safety in the name of capturing the liquidity of magma that allows us to laugh at the imperfections of humanity whilst marvelling at things we may not truly comprehend.

It’s this that makes me curious as to why the film is titled a requiem for the late Krafft’s, with its strengths being in the vignettes of molten memories captured by the Krafft’s own career.

It is a shame that both The Fire Within, and Fire of Love will both exist in direct comparison to one another as if indirectly created as companion pieces, especially with The Fire Within released days prior to Fire of Love.

But with Herzog’s status linked now with the Krafft’s, their story will no doubt become a place of discovery for new audiences teaching audiences and cinephiles about both the Krafft’s fiery love for volcanos and each other.

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By Conor Riley

Conor is the Founder and Editor for Cinamore, a publication focused on giving power back to journalists. As a portmanteau of the word 'Cinema' and the Italian word for love 'Amore', Cinamore aims to highlight the love that we all carry for the art of the moving image.


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