The power of nature through different lenses

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Not since 1997, when it was published Peak Dante and Volcano, have viewers treated to two major films based on volcanoes in one year. In 2022 another duo of such films presented the interesting, and ultimately devastating, effects of volcanic activity on professional scientists and curious civilians. Sara Dhosaand The fire of love and Rory Kennedy The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari, documentary films streaming on Disney + and Netflix, respectively, on screens this year and put some of the most explosive wonders in the world under a cinematic microscope. While each film captures the imagination, giving the audience a first-hand and personal insight into the lives of people who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, The fire of love and The Volcano leave different views on mankind’s relationship with nature and the possible effects of calculated risk.


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What is ‘Fire of Love’ about?

the fire of love
Photo via National Geographic Films

Sara Dosa’s impressive documentary chronicles the marriage and scientific work of Maurice and Katia Krafft for decades. After falling hard for each other and bonding over a shared interest in geology, particularly volcanoes, they married in 1970. For the next two decades, the Kraffts traveled the globe in earnest to study and record volcanic activity. With Maurice a geologist and Katia a geochemist, much of the French adventure was captured through photographs and 16mm film. In total, they collected about 200 hours of footage and The fire of love pulls no punches in showing viewers how far this couple was willing to go in pursuit of scientific research.

Accompanied by a hypnotic narration by Miranda July, the film is made up entirely of Krafft’s personal photographs and work, as well as archival footage containing clips of their television appearances over the years. It’s clear from the start that Maurice and Katia are cut from different cloth, driven not only by their personal interest in volcanoes, but also by a shared desire to flirt with the dangers inherent in their work. They never seemed to feel discouraged about the possibility of fate that might eventually befall them, with Maurice once saying that he wanted his death to be “at the edge of a volcano”. Katia echoed similar sentiments in explaining why she let Maurice take the lead when approaching a volcano, reasoning that she wanted to be right behind him if and when he would die.

It is their total commitment not only to their work, but to each other, that makes Krafft’s story so inspiring. Like many documentaries on the same subject, The fire of love capturing the wonder, awe and humility so often associated with those who explore the natural world. Dosa’s film, however, goes further by combining that timeless effort with an intimate portrait of lovers who had the greatest joy of standing together on the edge of danger. Although their lives and careers would come to an abrupt and tragic end (they died together during the 1991 eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan), one can’t help but get the impression that the couple were meant to be and even asking for a way to leave this world.

What is ‘The Volcano: Rescue From Whakaari’ about?

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Image via Netflix

Not long after that The fire of loveRory Kennedy’s first album was about a terrifying natural disaster. The active stratovolcano, Whakaari, has long been a tourist destination. Located on White Island, 30 miles off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the site saw around 10,000 annual visitors despite the constant threat of volcanic activity. After many eruptions over the years, including minor ones as far back as 2012, 2013, and 2016, the island saw a measurable increase in activity in October and November 2019. despite this, civilian tours continued to the island and White Island Tours was posted on it. their website, “there is a possibility that explosive hazards could occur. White Island Tours works through the various levels of alert, but travelers should be aware that there is always a risk of an explosion regardless of the it’s an alert level. White Island Tours follows a wide range of precautions. a safety plan that determines our activity on the island at different levels.”

On December 9, 2019, the worst fears of tourists and tourists alike were realized when Whakaari exploded at 2pm local time. With 47 people on the island, 22 would lose their lives and the rest were left with serious life-threatening injuries. In the blink of an eye, Kennedy’s film moves from an intimate and personal exploration of natural wonder to one of sheer terror against nightmarish conditions. As survivors recall the horrific details of the eruption, the devastating injuries, and the desperate moves they made to get themselves and their loved ones out of harm’s way, The Volcano proves to be high among harrowing accounts of real accidents and how those involved responded.

Observing the power of nature through different lenses

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Image via Netflix

In thinking about it The fire of love and The Volcano As unexpected companion pieces, each film is strikingly different in terms of narrative, tone and lasting impression. With the former, viewers not only get a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible power of nature, but also the influence of the natural world in fostering a deep bond between two people. . In capturing the bond over their shared interest in geology and volcanoes, and seeing that bond grow into a companionship that ended in mutual tragedy, The fire of love arguably less about the Kraffts’ field of study and more about their commitment to each other as lovers. The volcanoes, although they are magnificent sights to behold, are ultimately a backdrop for exploring a close and personal slice of life. Despite the narrative ending in tragedy and untimely death, viewers arrive at a place of honor for the French couple and their feats of taking risks, moving over the world. In the end, the film brings a level of empathy to its subjects, moving away from what might be expected to be melancholic and instead embraces the romanticism of enthusiasm and a poem

In contrast, The Volcano he is not interested in romanticizing the power of the natural world. Kennedy’s film is an interesting cautionary tale about the dangers of adventure and the negative consequences that can arise from rolling the dice with Mother Nature. Survivors of the 2019 Whakaari eruption aren’t concerned with fondly recalling the White Isle’s scenic beauty and humbling presence, but rather recounting the traumatic and lifelong effects of their aftermath. meet with disaster. Many of them are forever the same physically and mentally after experiencing such an event, looking at a long road to recovery and, in some cases, unsure of the specific circumstances under which their loved ones died. By the end of the film, the constant feeling of pain and anguish is visible to the viewers, with little closure for peace of mind. Although criminal charges have been brought against some of those involved, and court proceedings are set to begin in July 2023, it is still unclear who can be held responsible and for what it is a possibility.

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