Features and Columns · Movies

‘The Fire Within’ vs ‘Fire of Love’ and the Hunt for Adequate Images

Two volcano movies from 2022 enter … one movie leaves (it’s the one directed by Werner Herzog).
Fire Within Fire Of Love
By  · Published on July 17th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that compares two very different films — The Fire Within and Fire of Love — with very similar (and volcanic) subject matter.

There are a number of instances across movie history where movies with ridiculously similar plots were released in the same year: Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998; Dante’s Peak and Volcano in 1997; The Cave and The Descent in 2005. The list goes on and on.

Whether a case of great minds thinking alike or dumb luck, the synchronicities of film history offer interesting opportunities to compare and contrast. Case in point: The Fire Within and Fire of Love. Both films were released in 2022. Both films are documentaries about the careers of ill-fated vulcanologists and married couple Katia and Maurice Krafft.

One of the two films (Fire of Love) is the more well-known of the pair, in part due to its more populist approach to its subject matter and its (certainly related) Oscar nomination. But the other was directed by Werner Herzog. So it’s not really a fair fight, is it?

Even before The Fire Within, the German director’s interest in the Kraffts was clear. Herzog already engaged with the couple’s work in his 2016 documentary Into the Inferno. And if you’re familiar with Herzog’s work, his interest in the adventurism and aesthetic quest for capturing the sublime on film intrinsically resonates with the Kraffts’ photography of volcanic activity and lava flows.

The following video essay is less interested in comparing Fire of Love and The Fire Within because, again, one of them was directed by Werner Herzog. Instead, the essay is more concerned with how the comparison reveals what makes Herzog, well, Herzog. And, more to the point: how even with the same footage, execution, and intent can completely change the way a film feels.


Watch “When Two Filmmakers Make the Same Movie”

Who made this?

This video essay comparing Fire of Love and The Fire Within was created by Like Stories of Old, a video essay channel run by Tom van der Linden. You can follow van der Linden on Twitter here. And you can subscribe to his YouTube account here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.