Ben Oliver

Banner image for The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft

The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft

This is a vision that only exists in dreams.
02 March 2023

Werner Herzog’s take on the lives of volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft, released within months of the other documentary about them, Fire of Love1.

I’m duty bound to compare the two documentaries, and the first thing that stands out here is that for whatever reason this film chooses to convert the Krafft’s footage into widescreen format, and it loses some of its power and vivacity as a result. It’s an odd choice for a documentary that wants to show the Kraffts as artists and filmmakers.

In most other regards it’s a good film however, with Werner Herzog’s typically fatalistic narration winning out over Miranda July’s almost affected performance in Fire of Love.

The films compliment each other well. I’d still recommend newcomers to the scene to watch Fire of Love first as it’s more of a straight biography of the pair (in fact, even The Fire Within’s introduction suggests that you might already be familiar with the subject matter), but Herzog sees them through his own eyes as a filmmaker and provides some interesting insight.

He’s also not afraid to fixate on their constant dance with death, and how that affects their relationship with life. He has such a talent with tackling potentially poor taste subjects, skillfully bringing morbid curiosity into the limelight.

There’s very little duplicate footage here, and a new perspective makes this worth a watch for those interested in the Krafft’s work.