Science

The fire of love, a breathtaking documentary filmed on the edge of volcanoes – Science et Avenir

These are two small, fluorescent orange patches that develop in an expanse of dry rock as far as the eye can see. Katia and Maurice Krafft, the legendary couple of French volcanologists, are the focus of Sarah Dosa’s documentary “Fire of Love”, which will hit theaters on September 14, 2022.

For 25 years, Katya and Maurice Krafft traveled the planet in search of volcanic explosions in order to better understand and document them. Falling in love with this mineral ecosystem and disillusioned with the world they live in, they decide to dedicate their lives to studying eruptions. “Volcanoes are bigger than people, they are beyond human understanding,” explains Maurice. While Katya says that she has “the impression that she is nothing at all in these raging elements.” The passion of these two scientists for this burning world mingles with their own love story. Funny, gentle and intelligent gurgling is illustrated through their countless archives.

Uncover millennial secrets

A couple who call themselves “acrobats” or “freelancers” don’t hesitate to defy the elements to get closer to these fiery giants. Warned by friends from all over the world, as soon as the volcano erupts, Katya and Maurice go straight to the spot and get help to get as far as possible despite the danger, not thinking twice about camping on the edge of a boiling crater and preparing food. scrambled eggs in a pan right on the lava. Traveling is “no more dangerous than walking on the road in Belgium,” Maurice assures, jokingly and casually.

The couple wore tinfoil suits and a helmet to protect themselves from the heat and projectiles. Photo credit: IMAGE’EST

Relentless or even short-tempered, two volcanologists have set themselves the goal of unlocking the thousand-year-old secrets of volcanoes in order to advance science. In their samples, they return minerals and gases. And on their drums, they manage to perpetuate such phenomena as lava glass (minerals that have not had time or opportunities to crystallize), volcanic bombs (fragments of lava ejected during an eruption, emanating from magma) or lava flows illustrating the movements of tectonic plates. Phenomena are too hidden in place to be able to study them fully.

While some lines of research tend to classify volcanoes into several categories, Maurice Kraft dismisses this theory: each volcano has its own “personality”, and the evolution of each of them must be studied separately. However, the pair will be involved in developing a classification between red volcanoes, which emit basaltic and liquid lava, and gray volcanoes, which form lava domes rather than flows.

Flirting with death at the edge of volcanoes

Although volcanoes are better and better understood, predicting their eruptions is still difficult. Mount St. Helens in the United States in 1980, which killed 57 people, will change the order of their priorities. The pair are now focused on a better understanding of grey, deadlier volcanoes. Then the catastrophe of the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz volcano eruption, which killed more than 22,000 people, would complete their paradigm shift. The Colombian government at the time refused to evacuate the population, giving the volcanologists only a few loans. Since then, the couple will fight to warn of the need to develop plans to evacuate the population.

For 1 hour and 33 minutes, the viewer walks with Katya and Maurice Krafft along the edge of a smoking abyss. Spouses who care little about flirting with death are fully aware of the danger. “It’s like being a flea on the edge of a pot of overflowing milk,” Katya jokes, while emphasizing the need for them to explore intimacy. Their scientific work is transformed for the film into an almost mythological fable about these two souls in love with the mysteries of our planet. Fire and stone will manage to reconcile them with humanity. “Living far away on volcanoes, away from men, I will eventually fall in love with them,” Maurice admitted. “I have seen so many beautiful things that I am over a century old.”

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