TL;DR : Even if I heavily recommend to read the whole post, you can read the introduction, summarized parts and global conclusion only. Check the summary if you want to read certain parts as well.
However if you plan to comment about the post, please read it entirely.
Hello everyone !
I'm making this post to give you a complete view on the current state of the Netflix show, including the basics if you're completely lost, and deliver an hope message to people who really worry about the quality of the final product, because of what we officially got so far. This post will feature a lot of infos you may have missed if you don't follow the show that much as well.
The goal is to show to people who completely lost the hope for the show that there's actually a lot of reasons for the show to be good. This post is in NO CASE A TRUTH, it's just my opinion relying on FACTS.
It will go A LOT further the official news (screen test + casting announcements), and detail every point and aspect of the show you may have missed but which are actually equally or more important than the official ones. This will give you evidence of a a potential good show coming, and why's it's ridiculous to discard it that early.
I recommend to any fan of The Witcher to read this post. If you're optimistic or pessimistic about the show, and whatever how you discovered the universe. However, I will focus on controversial points and especially some irrelevant fears or arguments.
The post will be split in 11 parts, each one about an unique matter for the show. As I said, you can read this post even if you only know The Witcher with the third game (for example).
A last thing before we begin, please stay respectful and mature between each other. This article has the potential to create some sparks, so please accept every optimistic or pessimistic opinion, if they have solid arguments of course.
So, don't hesitate to comment and give your POV whatever your feelings are. But obviously after reading this post. I'll probably add some of your arguments in the post if they're interesting enough.
Three very important things to keep in mind:
- The show is not made for the books audience, it's not made for the games audience neither, and it never will.It's made for the Netflix audience above all.
- The show doesn't exist yet, so the debate can be kind of sterile. Never judge too heavily something we haven't seen on screen.
- Some people just want to hate. You can prove logically they're wrong, they just don't need a reason to hate actually. Ignore them. If you are one of them, you're just depriving yourself here. You're punishing nobody else than you. Try to read this post and see how it is to not focus on the bad only.
This post is guaranteed to have no spoilers.
- The show is an adaptation of the books, not the games. How to deal with that ?
- Geralt, why he is very different from the games and reassurances about the screen-test
- Yennefer, the one true love of Geralt, and thoughts about Anya
- Ciri, portrayed by Freya Allan and why she is an amazing choice
- Triss, a minor character, and why she is not a redhead in the show
- A full-white Witcher world NEVER existed, it's confirmed by Sapkowski, here are the proofs
- The global casting is actually very promising, don't overgeneralize
- The staff, including directors, writing team, art department and special effects studios : why it's overall very promising and reassuring
- Costumes, what we saw so far are background characters or extras costumes, and why they will look better on screen
- They're filming in AMAZING locations, a strong reason to be hyped by the show
- The show has big ambitions but they're keeping the books modesty
Part 1: The show is an adaptation of the books, not the games. How to deal with that ?
If you already know that AND if you have read the books, you can honestly jump this part.
Maybe some of you don't even know what "the books" are.
Actually, the original Witcher works are not the games, but a saga of books (7 books : 2 collections of short stories + 5 main novels). They were written in the 90's by Andrzej Sapkowski, creator of the Witcher.
You may have only heard of them as well, and always sounded like obscure prequel-fanfiction to the games.
But no, a big no. It's actually the contrary. Anybody who has read the books can say it : the true story of The Witcher is the books saga. They're excellent, very-well written, interesting and rich. In my opinion they have nothing to envy to Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire.
The games are really a kind of sequel fanfictions. By the way, Sapkowski don't like the games.
Don't take me wrong, the games are fantastic, they're just not like the books at all. And because the show is an adaptation of the books, I want to prevent you to not try to compare the show and the games.
I think you can't realize what is the true Witcher universe, including world-building and characters if you didn't read them. The games actually show like 10% of the universe. For example,
here is a map of the Continent (so the complete world of The Witcher). The squares are the zones in The Witcher 3.
It shows well how this world is more than what you know so far (for gamers only of course).
Moreover, the books have its own unique characters, like the games have its owns. They share some characters, but the majority of them are exclusive to books. That explains why you don't know the majority of the characters in the cast if you haven't read the books.
So, you want to read them ? In normal time I would advise you one hundred times to discover them, but…today it would spoil you the Netflix series. So you can make a choice :
- Read the books before the show comes out (release in Q4 2019). You will be spoiled obviously, but at least you will understand more things, including casting choices, characters, and story before the show. It's another way to discover it, I'm personally happy to know the books, like that I will watch the show very differently and see how they transcribe them on TV. You absolutely need to follow this order to read them.
- Don't read the books. My only advise would be to keep in mind to take the show as a complete new work, with its own rules, characters and visuals. It will be very different from the games, like the books are.
Part 2 : Geralt, why he is very different from the games and reassurances about the screen-test
- Geralt is very different in the books
Here is a comment I got some times ago from
u/kevlarbuns, explaining well the situation:
Here's my biggest concern that people are going to freak out about and it's going to really cause a divide between the game audience and the book audience, potentially:
Geralt has heroic qualities. At times, he commits extremely heroic deeds and is the knight in shining armor. The games naturally kind of have to feel this way, as the story has to revolve directly around what the player is doing. He is there to save the day for the most part, with maybe a few missteps.
The Geralt of the books, however, has all of those admirable qualities, but is flawed. He is impulsive, stubborn, and, at times, reckless. He dives into situations head-first and regularly ends up making a bigger mess of things. Thankfully his shortcomings are smoothed over by the people he surrounds himself with. Regis, for example, becomes his voice of reason and works as a foil to Geralt's impatience and aggressiveness. Furthermore, Geralt often ends up requiring the help of the women he is pretty much a savior for in the games.
Source of the comment
What he/she said is interesting, I don't want the gamers to expect a "big badass" like the games (especially The Witcher 3) show him. He is not only that in the games, I know, I played them, but like the redditor said, he's not so heroic.
CDPR did a good job overall concerning Geralt, but keep in mind he is even more flawed than in the games, and most important, he actually has emotions. Sometimes he laughs in the books, for example.
It's important to know that to understand the next point :
- Why Henry Cavill is a very solid Geralt, and why the show runners chose him
Lauren met him in April, here are her words about him when he was confirmed to be Geralt (Sept 4th 2018)
This is important, and from my heart. I met Henry in April. Over the next four months, I met/reviewed hundreds of other potential leads, many of whom were amazing. But what I never forgot was Henry's deeply insightful understanding of Geralt's strength and brutality, and more importantly, his wit and vulnerability. Because as a fan of the franchise, Henry saw beyond the script pages. He saw the human connection that Geralt perpetually needs, even if he denies it, kicking and screaming at every turn. What I saw was Geralt's heart, in Henry.
It's very reassuring to read this, let's dissect it:
I met/reviewed hundreds of other potential leads <...> But what I never forgot was Henry's deeply insightful understanding of Geralt
It means that the show runners and the casting directors saw absolutely everything they needed for the complex character of Geralt in Henry. This following sentence is very well written and confirms that:
Henry saw beyond the script pages. He saw the human connection that Geralt perpetually needs*, even if he denies it, kicking and screaming at every turn.* What I saw was Geralt's heart, in Henry*.*
Because as a fan of the franchise
Henry is a true fan of The Witcher, both books and games by the way. It's important because that way he had a strong connection to the Witcher world and the character. He is really invested on the show, at the time I'm writing this they are currently filming, and we know his schedule is insane (source).
So they chose him because he is the perfect books Geralt. The staff and the other actors are unanimous to say he's tremendous on screen. I think a lot of people are disappointed by Cavill because they still have TW3's Geralt representation in mind. And Henry Cavill is indeed not a perfect games Geralt at all.
There is more about the commercial importance is he in part 7.
- The screen-test is confirmed to not being the final look of Geralt. However don't expect a radical change.
First, I want to reassure you, it's not the final look. We actually have a set leak showing Geralt's new wig and armor :
Leaked pic of Geralt in Canaries
So here are some questions and answers about both pictures :
- Why does Geralt look like this ? Why his hair is long and why he doesn't have a beard or his famous scar?
As I said earlier, Geralt in the books is very different from the games. And physically too.
A quick reminder of how Geralt is supposed to look
Geralt hates having a beard in the books :
Geralt: "Do you have a razor?"
Dandelion: "Eh? Of course I do."
Geralt: "Lend it to me tomorrow morning. This beard of mine is driving me insane."
However, based on
this picture from Henry's Instagram, he may have a light stubble, probably to make his face more rough, because one of the first complains about the first screen-test was Henry being too "clean", and I wholeheartedly agree about that.
Nevertheless, I have to remind you that Geralt is NOT supposed to look gritty and old. Yennefer, and many other sorceresses btw, describe him as very handsome.
That's why Mads Mikkelsen (for example) is not a better choice than Cavill at all. (he's not a bad one, but he's not a good one). Henry is commercially a strong choice, along with his strong understanding of the character.
By the way, the big eye scar was created by CDPR, he never had it in the books.
(For Ciri's scar, she has her scar during the books, she will not have it until a certain moment*) <— This spoiler explains why Ciri will not have her scar neither.*
- Why did they released this first look of Geralt if they didn't keep it ?
There is a reason for this. Actually, it was the very first hair and make up they did.
From Tomek Baginski, executive producer of the show:
what was released was the first make up and costume test
There were concerns that these tests would be leaked anyway, someone would take a picture or something – so it was better to pierce a balloon so we could work in peace.
So they purposely released it to avoid an uncontrolled leak. They probably wouldn't have if they knew the shitstorm it created.
- Okay, but quality-wise, it's very bad, I saw cosplays better than this
The screen-test is disappointing because of the costume's quality. But as I said, it's the very first time they tried a wig and make-up on Henry, so it obviously can't be perfect. Anyway, it's not important because we know they changed it.
Then, cosplays. There is a huge difference between cosplays and a TV character. A TV character can't look physically exaggerated. He can't have a huge armor and a lot of make-up because it's more ridiculous than anything.
Again, some cosplays based on the games are very good, however because the show is based on the books, things like
this are a BIG NO for the show, and are an insult to Sapkowski's characterization.
If you simply can't imagine Cavill as books Geralt, here is a wonderful concept art for Geralt, which is a good compromise imo :
(Official ?) Concept art of Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia
We have reasons to think it's an official concept art:
The picture was posted on
r/netflixwitcher and it was taken down. The OP asked the source to the FB group where he found the image, and they refused to give it.
Plus, it's a very unusual art, because it looks like the artist used an original picture of Henry for making it.
No beard, long hair, one sword (in the books, Geralt lets the silver one on Roach), and round medaillon (like in the books).
That's not what a random fan would do. The art has no signature too…very unusual for an art of high quality…
When we look at the concept artists announced on IMDb, you can find someone called Wojtek Fus (artstation). The style strangely matches. So it's possible that this art is made by him. Wojtek created arts for The Witcher 3 as well.
In any case, it looks good.
- So what to expect for the final look ?
We had this blurry picture I put above. Unfortunately the quality doesn't tell us a lot.
For long, we only knew that the author approved Henry as Geralt.
However, Sapkowski was on set recently ! So he saw the new look and Henry playing !
He said that Geralt's costumes and characterization are cool (source).
I think we can expect something less disappointing than the screen-test then.
Part 3 : Yennefer, the one true love of Geralt, and thoughts about Anya
First, if you only know The Witcher by the games, don't expect a Yennefer-Triss rivalry like in TW3. Yennefer is the one true love of Geralt, and Triss is a minor character. I'll let you discover that in the show. We'll talk more about Triss in part 5.
So, Anya Chalotra. If you don't know her, she's the actress who will play Yennefer in the show.
Anya Chalotra is a 22-year old British actress. She was (and still is for some people) a controversial cast, mainly because of two reasons.
- her age,
- her Indian roots (her father is Indian).
We'll not talk a lot about Indian roots. It's an unfair argument used against Anya by the ones who can't see someone else than their own vision, or CDPR's. Who doesn't have foreign roots today ?
And to be honest, she doesn't look Indian. She played one in The Village for example, that's true, but she played no-Indians as well. You wouldn't have guessed her Indian roots if nobody told you. I made a quick survey and the first guesses were mostly Romanian or Spanish.
So let's talk about her age now. For a lot of people, she is too young to play a mother-ish Yennefer.
CDPR's Yen is decent. But she has many flaws in her behavior and general looking (clothes especially, sorceresses' clothes in the games are unfaithful actually), compared to the books.
In the game she is too "cold", probably to contrast with Triss, but she's actually warmer. And I'm not even talking about CDPR portraying her as a 35 year old "mom".
So game Yennefer shouldn't be taken as a reference at all. She is far from a perfect adaptation of books Yennefer. The problem is, she is the first (important) representation of the character, so her game representation will stick in the mind of too much people. Like a lot of other characters unfortunately.
So, how is she described in the books by the way ?
- She wears black & white dresses.
- According to Dandelion (Jaskier in the show), she doesn't look more than 25-30 years old.
We know she will wear black & white in the show, we'll see that later.
Actually, Anya is not TOO young to play Yennefer. She is a bit young only. From my experience of the complains I read about her these last months is the little age gap between her and Freya Allan who plays Ciri, who is 17 (or with Henry).
If they chose Anya it's because she is the one who embodies the most Yennefer, according to the staff.
You can check some videos of other actresses who auditioned for the role here, btw.
For any character on TV, the most important thing is the writing, then the acting and THEN the look.
We'll talk about the writing in a next part, but the acting of Anya is very promising :
- She is a stage actress above all (like a lot of other cast actors btw). It means she can impose her rhythm and her mood in a scene. It can work pretty well with Henry : he would just have to "follow" her during a scene. Like Yennefer and Geralt. Yennefer almost always leads the conversation between them.
- Every critic about her previous roles (on stage) are unanimous to say she has an amazing and strong presence. Doesn't that remind you a certain sorceress ?… 🙂
- She already played older women in previous roles and it worked pretty well. We know she is very mature for her age. We can feel it when she's playing, a good example
here (it's not a Witcher audition). It will be very useful for the portraying of a near-100-year-old sorceress.
Keep in mind she was chosen above dozens and dozens of other actresses, like for Henry. It's absolutely not a random choice. Beau de Mayo, writer for the show has by the way talked Anya when she was announced :
She’s a star and someone who instantly got the complexity, thoughtfulness, sexuality, and power of Yennefer.
“Chops” are that indescribable thing that actors and actresses possess that allows them to step into a role, and cannot be captured in a single photo alone. She has it. We’ve seen it. You will too. Also, I’d suggest you research her and her acclaimed theatrical run.
We say it all the time: the role goes to the person whose talent best embodies the role. Period.
She has it. We’ve seen it. You will too.
It's exactly what I feel about her. I think she will surprise us.
Someone who instantly got the complexity, thoughtfulness, sexuality, and power of Yennefer
It shows how her acting will be determining everything. Her being slightly too young is more than secondary.
It's always 100000% better to have an actress who plays amazingly rather than one that has indeed curly hair and exact same clothes of W3's Yen and don't know how to act. It works for every character as well.
Oh and just for the pleasure, some juicy Yen leaks from the set :
Part 4 : Ciri, portrayed by Freya Allan and why she is an amazing choice
Here she is.
Like for Geralt and Yennefer (and Triss, we'll see her next part), Ciri is quite different in the books. Games Ciri is more than okay, but you have to know some informations to understand this cast :
The books take place years before the games (supposed to be a sequel of the books). In them, Ciri is between 10 and 16 years old. 10 at the start, 16 at the end. (Ages depend on translations).
It means she is NOT playing a young Ciri, she is playing Ciri. There will NOT be another actress for the older Ciri, because she simply grows during the books.
So she's absolutely not too young, she is actually older than the wanted age. However, an aged-up Ciri in the show is important because of the several Ciri nudity/sexual scenes in the books. A thirteen yo actress obviously can't be naked on TV.
What is great about Freya actually is she does look young, younger than her age actually. She can easily play a (let's say) 14 years old Ciri in the show. It's speculation of course.
Like Henry and Anya, she was chosen among hundreds of young actresses. They loved Freya so much that Lauren took a flight to met her in person.
She has amazing eyes too. Blue-green (Cirilla has green eyes), and very expressive ones. The picture above always gives me chills.
I don't have anything more to say about her, just don't expect a gray hair, because in the books she is described having very bright hair, like her mother Pavetta.
Here is a picture of Gaia Mondadori, who plays Pavetta, you can see her hair (the guy is Blair Kincaid, who plays Crach, he's around 20yo in the books).
Her ashen hair, according to
Ciri's wiki page,
starts to take on streaks of white/silver by the end of
The Lady of the Lake
(the last book of the saga)
You can see Freya with this hair in this leaked picture (whole pic
Part 5 : Triss, a minor character, and why she is not a redhead in the show
Concept art by u/ZAKIESTA – "How Triss will look like", based on leaked videos
Here is a little GIF of her in a leaked video and here is the source of the picture above
In the part 3 (Yennefer), I explained how the Yen/Triss rivalry didn't exist in the books, because Triss is far younger than Yennefer, and especially because of Yennefer and Geralt first meeting and story (The Last Wish). I can't tell you more without spoiling, but keep in mind that Triss is not as important as Yen and is absolutely not a rival of Yen for Geralt. She is interested by him but Yennefer is just too important for him compared to Triss. Goodbye #TeamTriss…
- Why she is not a redhead ?
Simply because she is not in the books ! 😀
CDPR slightly changed her hair color to red for an unknown reason, but her hair is actually described as chestnut/auburn. (Again, depends on translations)
- Her behavior is very different from the games. Books Triss and game Triss are actually two different characters.
They differ too much to be considered like the same characters.
In the books, we can feel her naivety, her youth. She is like a sister for Ciri, and she is a lot less charismatic.
Part 6 : A full-white Witcher world NEVER existed, it's confirmed by Sapkowski, here are the proofs
Probably the most important controversy around the show. And certainly the most infuriating considering the irrelevant arguments it's fed by.
If you're not aware, the controversy is the following : several actors cast in the show are BAME people.
For a lot of people, it breaks the logic of a Europe medieval fantasy show to have black people in it.
But…most of people forgot…
There's actually random people with dark or mixed skin in the books. And in Northern Kingdoms too.
If those who complained about that were only gamers, I would understand, because The Witcher 3 (and W2 I believe) doesn't have a single black person in it, but a lot of readers complained too.
So here are the proofs, and plus the ones I chose are just from short stories, there are in novels too.
From The Sword of Destiny, short story in Sword of Destiny, a random Verden mercenary, northern kingdom :
‘‘Whence and whither?’ barked a thickset individual in worn-out, green apparel, standing before Geralt with bandy legs set wide apart. His face was as swarthy and wrinkled as a prune.
In A Question of Price, short story in The Last Wish, Eist Tuirseach, from Skellige is described with dark skin, check the wiki : https://witcher.fandom.com/wiki/Eist_Tuirseach
What Lauren said, MONTHS before the cast announcement :
The staff includes someone who was born in Europe, someone else who’s spent half her life in Central Europe, and someone whose family is Polish. But no one actually asked that — they simply took note of skin color and assumed I was filling quotas.
Mr. Sapkowski has said — publicly, and to me — that the Continent is big and diverse in its population, in every way (race, culture, gender, and yes, occasionally skin color, which he said he did not always specify).
I’m honoring the author’s own intentions. He told me so himself.
I’m honoring the author’s own intentions.
He told me so himself.
Sapkowski said several times that he liked what he saw so far, on set or on the scripts, and he defines Lauren as a true professional, along with her very interesting take on his books (source).
diverse in its population, in every way (race, culture, gender, and yes, occasionally skin color
occasionally skin color
So, Sapkowski basically wrote dark skin minorities in his books, and confirms there are in his universe. Again :
Mr. Sapkowski has said — publicly, and to me — that the Continent is big and diverse in its population, in every way (race, culture, gender, and yes, occasionally skin color, which he said he did not always specify).
The short stories are indeed inspired by European stories, but the universe of Mr. Sapkowski is fictional and diverse. It was not really important for him to specify the skin color, but he does it several times.
If you still think it breaks the logic, better ask to the creator himself…
So it leads us to the next part :
Part 7 : The global casting is actually very promising, don't overgeneralize
First, you can find here the confirmed cast.
There are actually a lot more, but because they are not confirmed, they don't appear here.
- Nobody except the staff can't say an actor or actress will make a bad or good performance.
You can only have an opinion about them, but boycotting the show NOW is stupid. If the show is bad when it releases, it will be legitimate, but before no. Too many people spit in the soup before tasting it. It's not only for The Witcher by the way, we can observe this trend on a lot of works nowadays.
Plus it's NOT like the show had 0 reason to be good. I just proved it above, and we'll see many others in next parts.
It's basic, but too many people forget that: Each cast actor/actress won his/her audition and won the right to be in the show.
- Why a very famous Henry + basically only unknowns is a recipe of success
When a show, or a movie**, is made with only unknowns, it's very difficult to make it successful.** That's how the industry works, you need to have big names to improve considerably the exposure of the work.
The contrary doesn't work too, a cast with only big names is impossible.
First, because it's impossible to have all these big actors at the same time playing in the same thing, it's too difficult for each actor's schedule. Then it's expensive.
You may want to use Avengers for example as a counter-example, however Avengers and the majority of Marvel movies are already hugely set in the industry, they are ones of the most successful movies ever.
Even if The Witcher is already a big IP, let's not forget the Netflix audience (the big majority of the audience for this show) will for the most not know The Witcher yet, and will discover it with the show.
Anyway, I personally think it's distracting to have to many known actors in a show. It works in movies, but in a show, they're thinking long-run. Unknown actors are perfect to make the viewer identify as one of the characters.
- So why casting Henry is an good move ?
We already saw how much he loves the books and understand them in part 2, but commercially Henry is an amazing choice as well.
Henry is very popular and will bring an huge audience to the show. The guy has basically 500.000 likes on Instagram in a few hours.
Me and other redditors asked to several girls if they want to watch the show, and they said yes, because Henry is "hot". I don't generalize, but we can't imagine the HUGE audience Henry has behind him.
Imagine the situation : A girl not interested in fantasy that much but who loves Henry (because he's handsome let's be honest), will try the show. And she will stay and watch it anyway because of the amazing female characters in the show, like Ciri or the sorceresses.
It's just an example of course, not every girl likes Henry and not every Henry fan is a girl, don't take me wrong.
Women are actually already a big part of the existing Witcher fanbase. That's the power of Sapkowski who created an universe and characters working perfectly for all genders, a too rare quality to not be mentioned.
- They just chose the best actor or actress for each role without judging by the race or skin color
Sapkowski wrote and confirmed that they were skin color minorities in the books, as we saw it in the previous part. So the skin color for the show wasn't a reason to cast someone nor a reason to not cast someone.
At the Geralt audition, BAME and not BAME actors auditioned. At the Yennefer audition, BAME and not BAME actors auditioned. At the Ciri audition, BAME and not BAME actors auditioned.. <...>
(source of confirmed auditions so far)
So it's not about blackwashing, it's about good actors.
The diversity, which is more than skin color, in the Continent was important for Sapkowski, so they kept that.
From Lauren (source) :
<...> The trap people fall into is equating “ minority” with skin color. <...>
- If you don't like one of several choices, okay. But don't call the WHOLE cast "shit", because it's simply wrong.
A lot of choices seem so perfect to me to the extent that it's perturbing : Jodhi May as Calanthe, Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor, MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Therica Wilson-Read as Sabrina. Almost every minor character was wonderfully cast imo (Nohorn, Filavandrel, Duny, Yarpen…the list is long).
Because of Reddit's characters limit, parts 8, 9, 10, 11, summarized parts and conclusion are in comments.
Source: Original link
© Post "To anyone who want to watch the show but is disappointed so far" for game The Witcher.
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