If you haven’t already seen “Fire of Love,” it isn’t your typical documentary … and Miranda July’s voiceover isn’t your typical narration.
What strikes you about this Oscar contender and critically acclaimed National Geographic film, is that it’s about people who tell stories. A story about love – a story about passion and kindred spirits. It’s a tale of two star-crossed lovers finding their way to one another in a world that wasn’t quite built with them in mind.
Katia and Maurice Krafft dedicated their lives not only to unearth the hidden secrets of volcanoes and our place alongside them – but to the fiery pursuit of a greater meaning. To their place in society – our place in the world. Most documentarians tell stories about other people, historical musings, or ecosystems. Uncovering rhetoric and facts – buffed and polished by the confidence of a narrator taking the place of a creator explaining each intricate detail. But the Kraffts were a different kind of researcher. They weren’t just scientists or explorers, but a family – driven by the same goal to tell the narrative of the misunderstood giants who pre-date us all.
And that’s precisely what Sarah Dosa’s breathtaking documentary is all about – the Kraffts – and a small window into their lives off-camera.
July’s Narrations Echo the Krafft’s Journey
Miranda July’s narration doesn’t simply guide the story – it interacts with it. Emboldens it – tempers and edges it with a timid gleam of conviction. There is a hush shy of a whisper in every narration, a tremble less than man’s folly in every pause and every queue. Instead of merely narrating a documentary, July’s words mirror it. They breathe the same tremor that either Katia or Maurice might have. They carry the same stifled and unsteady weight of caution thrown to the wind in the midst of curiosity. July speaks to us not as a narrator reading a script with facts and certainties, but as any one of us would in the Kraffts’ place. She voices the narrative the same way the Kraffts speak about the volcanic behemoths they devoted their lives to studying.
July’s narration isn’t about volcanoes and geology – it’s about love. It’s about the love the Kraffts felt for each other. It’s about the passion for their field and a world few have dared to explore before them. And, of course, it’s about the camera’s love for them.
The Narrator is Less About Fact and More About Narrative
July weaves in their personal narratives, ties in testimony, and sometimes speaks less in fact than myth. Every side story and parallel – each segway and segment that documents their lives in the human world coupled with clips and voiceovers. Dramatized portrayals of their innermost thoughts put to paper and TV appearances likewise displayed on antique television sets and put to screen for the audience to see. Every facet reflects the idea and underlying theme that it’s a documentary about people who make documentaries.
In the same way, Katia and Maurice Krafft carried, pushed, and guided each other throughout Fire of Love, our narrator does the same for her audience. July lifts viewers upon the very shoulders of the fiery giants they based their lives around. She vocalizes the narrations as someone taking on a charge infinitely grander than themselves. She speaks with reverence and joy – sadness and confusion.
She speaks with a cadence that illustrates the same awestruck sense of wonder and insignificance felt by the Kraffts on each expedition. She narrates not with fear, worry, or want, but with a curiosity that overcomes caution. July speaks every line with the same reverence and care that the Kraffts took to the ancient giants whose backs they climbed on. Her voiceovers mirror the grandiosity of the very she tells. In the same way, the Kraffts felt as if they were ants climbing upon the backs of giants, Miranda July does her utmost to replicate that sensation to viewers.
Awards and Accolades
Since its 2022 debut, Fire of Love has garnered countless laurels and praise – even going so far as to be nominated for the Academy Awards in Best Documentary Feature.
Fire of Love, produced by National Geographic in association with Neon, was brought to life by acclaimed filmmaker Sarah Dosa. Following its release, the documentary received several awards and nominations – as well as remaining in theaters to this day (despite being available on streaming services like Disney+ and Hulu). Fire of Love has achieved more than critical acclaim and a lively following – but a dedicated fanbase reminiscent of the same fascination audiences felt seeing Maurice and Katia on television in the 70s and 80s.
About the Narrator
In 2004, Filmmaker Magazine named Miranda July the top pick in their 25 New Faces of Indie Film. As a performance artist and published short story writer, July later transitioned into filmmaking, where her debut feature, Me and You and Everyone We Know, received several accolades – including four Cannes Film Festival wins. July has since won 27 awards throughout her career, including nominations for Best Breakthrough Director and the Critic’s Choice Awards nomination for Best Narration in Fire of Love. Her background includes a family of writers and publishers as her parents, Lindy Hough and Richard Grossinger, founded North Atlantic Books.
Kim Handysides is an award-winning voice artist, and coach. Among her 20K+ narrations you have heard her on Discovery, Netflix, and the major networks, in iMax, the White House and the Smithsonian.