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The Fire Inside: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft (film review)

The Fire Inside: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft (film review)

Exclusively for Uncut from ViENNALE

Katja and Maurice Kraft have traveled together from volcano to volcano for decades, chasing eruptions while collecting geological data and footage. It is the story of two people who find each other due to their common interest and pursue their calling together. In 1991, the two French researchers died along with about 40 other people in the eruption of the Unzen volcano in Japan.

From previously unpublished archive footage of Krafts, Herzog painted a portrait of the couple documenting and honoring. He approaches the film in his own way and creates two perspectives, so to speak. On the other hand, Kraffts’ view is in the middle of the action: When Katya pictures her husband, who is only a few feet away from a shimmering lava flow in a silver suit to protect from the heat, you have the feeling of standing with them on the edge of hell. On the other hand, Herzog continues to add a meta level. He comments on the events from the beginning and reflects on his approach to the film. He explains at first that this is not a biography, but a celebration of pictures. He openly expresses his admiration for the cinematic eye and artistic vision that the Kraft family developed in the course of their documentary work. A certain affinity between him, Katya and Maurice Kraft can be heard in Herzog’s stories, especially when he talks about the passion and boldness with which the two engage in their work. It is precisely this intellectual affinity that makes Herzog the ideal mediator between the spectator and the world of crafts.

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The footage of the eruptions, glowing clouds, and lava flows alone would justify an almost hour-long movie, and the images are absolutely gorgeous. However, The Fire Inside goes beyond that. Familiarly fused with classical music and complemented by his essay monologues, the synthesis of Herzog’s aesthetics and the materials of the Kraffts Archive create a very special experience.

So the film is several things at once: an obituary for two worlds, a tribute to the talent of two directors and an exploration of the most impressive images and beauty that nature has to offer.