For those unaware, a Netflix series/adaptation for The Witcher has been in the works for quite some time, dating back as early as 2017 with the announcement by Netflix which will see it’s own adaptation of Geralt of Rivia’s adventures on the small screen. But, just what can we expect from this new show? That’s what we here at HNE hope to answer.
Before we go any farther, a little bit of backdrop; The Witcher is a series of short stories, novels and arcs written and conceived by Polish author Andrej Sapkowski, first published in the fantasy magazine known as Fantastyka in 1986, with the short story Wiedzmen, which for us, translates to The Witcher. The series continued as a number of short story collections throughout the 80s, before their popularity became so extensive that they eventually became fully fledged book series within the mid-90s; the first book, Blood of Elves, was published in 1994. The series is set on an unnamed continent in a world very different from our own, one that explores elements of magic, dangerous creatures and the darker side of humanity that pervades throughout it. Lord of the Rings this is not.
The main reason for this backdrop is to clear up any sort of misunderstandings; if you’re familiar with the Witcher name, I’m willing to bet it’s because a majority of you have played through the video game series of the same name by CDProjektRed. While the games serve to develop their own story and have amassed their own assortment of fans, it’s important to understand the position of the book series if only because THAT is what the Netflix series is adapting.
Showrunner Lauren Hissrich has said as much in the past, speaking with Entertainment Weekly on how “It’s a straight adaptation of the books; they [the videogames] went one way, we actually get to go another.” Hissrich has further elaborated that the The Witcher short stories are the main source of inspiration for adapting the world, with a number of titles also serving as inspiration in terms of story and tone. Of course, speaking on that, it’s important to clarify what kind of show viewers are getting into; genre is so hard to define these days, and with the plethora of fantasy series being developed, the most important selling point of a story is generally going to be the tone of it.
Speaking with SFX Magazine, Special Effects Supervisor Julian Parry has expressed that the show is taking more of a horror approach to its story: “I definitely think it leans more towards horror. We’re definitely taking the fantasy out. I can honestly say we’re not fantastical. I mean, it’s fantastical but in a grounded horror sense. For example, with Striga [a woman cursed to live as a monster], that’s one gnarly-looking thing. That’s very unpleasant!” A Striga, in this case, is a woman that’s been cursed to transform into a horrid creature that kills and devours anything in its sight, losing their humanity in the process. Seems like it’s keeping in line with one of the central themes of the original series, even if it’s attempts may lead to it focusing on a darker narrative overall.
Speaking further on that tone, the actual plot of the series is a bit mum at the moment; Netflix has their own synopsis of the series on their page, describing it as “Based on the best-selling fantasy series, The Witcher is an epic tale of fate and family. Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together.” Based on further discussion from the showrunner, Hissrich says that the story seeks to explore the complex family relationship between central characters Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri, as well as their navigation in a world that repeatedly showcases its dark side.
Speaking of, we’ve been talking all this time and yet we don’t even have a real idea on our central cast! While the full cast has definitely been detailed since the announcement, it’s probably more imperative to simply lay out our central three characters, the ones that will go on to form this reluctant family of sorts: Henry Cavill of Tudors and DCEU Superman fame will be portraying Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher and the central point of view character for the story. The show seems like its exploring his personal journey to discover where he stands in the world, and navigate it according to his own morals and principles.
Anya Chalotra will be playing Yennefer, a dark-haired, violet eyed sorceress with a deep connection to Geralt. One of the central themes surrounding her character is a desire to be a motherly figure, a desire she fulfills upon meeting Ciri. Speaking of, Ciri is played by Freya Allan, a young princess with a large reserve of untapped potential. Throughout the story, and most likely the Netflix series, Geralt acts as a parental figure for Ciri, helping to raise her and give her time to come to grips with her innate magical power.
The series is set to be eight episodes in length with recent reports stating a season 2 will be produced. Hissrich has gone on record saying that she’s kept her plans close to the chest, having already mapped out plans for 7 seasons worth of stories according to SFX magazine. While that’s certainly a lot, it’s not altogether unsurprising; Hissrich has laid out that she’s constantly thinking about how to capture audiences for years at a time, something that’s been apparent with a lot of streaming and television series in the past couple of decades. Whether or not Hissrich will get that chance, time will only tell, but here’s to hoping we get many more adventures of Geralt of Rivia in the years to come.
Are you excited for Netflix’s take on The Witcher and what are you most looking forward to from the adaptation? Let us know in the comments down below and feel free to follow me at @LukeAdaVA on Twitter!