Maurice and Katia Krafft, A Marriage of Love and Volcanoes

Katia and Maurice Krafft are seated for an interview in their home in Alsace, France. (Credit: INA)

The partnership between Maurice and Katia Krafft is one of those stories you mostly see in romantic movies. The French scientists met at a café in Paris, and after talking for several hours, they realized they were meant for each other and decided to remain together forever. For one thing, they had a passion for volcanoes. For another, they fell in love. 

Aspects of their life and contributions are portrayed in the documentary “Fire of Love,” directed by Sara Dosa and produced by National Geographic. The volcanologists studied and filmed erupting volcanoes around the world.

When I was invited to watch “Love of Fire, ” I thought it would be a fact-list story, a boring recount of what was done, when, and why. I was wrong.  Sosa did an amazing job choosing and editing the materials Maurice and Katia had gathered, pioneering the field of volcanology. 

Before the documentary, I had seen images of the two experts filming lava rivers and rocks at extremely high temperatures. Seemingly excited about their proximity to danger, they sought to teach the world about this powerful and destructive phenomenon. Sometimes they were criticized, and their activities deemed unsafe. But they continued with their labor of love.

The film also shows their marriage and partnership, filmed and photographed by themselves. The Kraffts died in 1991 while working close to Mount Unzen in Japan while the volcano was active. A fast-approaching cloud carrying volcanic debris and hot gas killed them. 

They had an extraordinary life. Their passion for volcanoes and dedication to science makes them even more interesting. It is a good documentary with fantastic footage, one that teaches you about the earth and us, humans. 

-Lupita Franco Peimbert

Katia Krafft wearing aluminized suit standing near lava burst at Krafla Volcano, Iceland. (Credit: Image’Est)

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