After eight seasons of Game of Thrones went by in a jiffy, dramas filled with kingdom politics, mythical creatures and brief nudities are hard to find. However, producer Lauren Schmidt’s latest work with Netflix, The Witcher, is proving to be the next GOT after checking those elements.
You can say this is Schmidt’s second chance. Netflix’s Marvel Daredevil and The Defenders, some of her previous works, failed to establish itself as a quality drama series on the platform. So much so, they were cancelled after a few seasons. Hence, understandably, The Witcher means a lot to her; you could tell after she roped in director Alik Sakharov, who famously directed critically acclaimed HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s House of Cards, to ensure this series will be a success. Considering how season two plans are confirmed, things are looking optimistic for Schmidt.
The Witcher is actually an adaptation from Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s slew of fantasy novels (Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt and et cetera). In fact, it is also an action role-playing game under the same name. Nonetheless, readers and gamers shouldn’t expect the series to be completely identical. The hairstyle and number of swords the protagonist have are some subtle differences.
The main protagonist is Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill). He is an assassin who specifically hunts and exterminates mythical creatures like pest control. Geralt, who is also a half human and a half mutant, struggles to find acceptance from the people around him until he meets Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) and Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra). Together, the trio forged an unlikely friendship, due to the nature of their statuses, and sometimes even more as they embarked on a treacherous journey towards several kingdoms.
Timely action scenes
For Schmidt’s Marvel Daredevil, I only managed to finish two out of three seasons of it. It isn’t because Daredevil‘s a bad show, but the fight scenes came only after a long, long wait. Considering it is an action film, the wait was exhausting. Fortunately, The Witcher is unlike that. Right from the get go, the series started with a fight between Geralt and a Kikimora, a spider-liked mythical creature; thus introducing Geralt himself and what he does for a living clearly for those who are unaware of what The Witcher is.
Throughout the story, Schmidt incorporated gory fight sequences timely. Not to mention, they were brilliantly captured by “hand-held camera” shots. Her choice of cinematography, surprisingly, isn’t as shaky as expected. Overall, it gives an objective point-of-view for the audience as if fighting alongside Geralt. This is pretty similar to the fights arranged by award-winning cinematographer Don Burgess in DC Comics’ Aquaman.
All action aside, one interesting element in the drama is about gaining acceptance. Author Yuval Noah Harari once mentioned in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind that humans are extremely intolerable towards species which looks like, but aren’t exactly, human.
Since Geralt isn’t a human per se, the locals naturally ostracised and despised him despite saving them from the clutches of mythical creatures. It was almost as if they preferred the creatures more than Geralt. Hence, whenever there’s a glimpse of acceptance towards Geralt, he usually gets overwhelmed with emotions and gets taken advantage of. Be it for lust, love, or assassination assignments.
Yennefer is another character who suffered the same fate as Geralt. As a sorceress, she has an abnormal appearance as compared to her fellow comrades. Think Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This led to Yennefer’s community rejecting her when she struggled to realise any magical potential. That is, of course, until she turned into someone so beautiful and so deadly.
For someone who has never read the books nor played the game, The Witcher piques my interest. It is certainly something unique Netflix has come up with after high profile releases like El Camino, The Irishman and Marriage Story.
Now, we wait for the arrival of season two. Catch all eight episodes of The Witcher on Netflix on 20 December.