After months of speculation and teasing, last week at SDCC we got a look at Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher. This has excited most Witcher fans and created tons of hype around the newly formed franchise. But some are skeptical and disappointed that the series isn’t going to be an adaptation of the games but instead are going to be straight from the books themselves. While some fans are disappointed by this idea, most will think this is a great entry point for those who have wanted to try the games but didn’t get a chance to play the first couple or someone who loves the games but the idea of hammering out seven books seemed a little daunting. So today we’re going to look at several keyframes from The Witcher trailer and try to break down why certain things are the way they are.
First up, the big one. Why does Geralt in the show not have two swords like his video game counterpart? In the books, the silver sword isn’t used as a mechanic as it is in the game. It isn’t needed as a plot device but simply he just doesn’t need it as much. He keeps the sword tucked away on his horse, Roach, for certain monsters or special occasions. A quote from the first book, The Last Wish, puts this idea into perspective.
As you can see, I carry two. Every witcher does. It’s said, spitefully, the silver one is for monsters and the iron for humans. But that’s wrong. As there are monsters which can be struck down with only a silver blade, so there are those for whom iron is lethal.
It’s another tool he has to keep tucked away on his horse just in case, but as Geralt himself once said, “both are for monsters“.
In the opening shots of the trailer, we hear the Narrator say, “I remember heard tails of Witchers,”. This early in the story Geralt isn’t particularly well known and in the shot we see several villagers take notice of him as Witchers aren’t exactly a common sight to see. The white hair and yellow eyes, that are caused by the “Trial of Grasses” that the Witchers undertake during their training, can be particularly unnerving to low-born villagers.
Immediately in the next shot, we get to see Geralt get to work. Possibly fighting what looks like a Nekker, but it could also call-back to one of the first short stories in The Last Wish and the opening cinematic in the first Witcher video game. A princess is turned into a monster known as a Striga and Geralt is hired by her father to break the curse. I’m trying to not get too much into spoiler territory but the story takes the “brave knight saving the princess” cliche and opens it up more into a world of political intrigue that only author Andrzej Sapkowski can do.
Here, we get our first look at Ciri, being accompanied by a group of fierce-looking tribal women. Which I can only guess are the Dryads that can sense the Elder Blood that flows through Ciri. The Forest of Brokilon is where Geralt and Ciri first meet. The Dryads save Ciri when she is lost in the forest and they try to keep Ciri there to tap into her power. The Narrator talks about Elves being among the first people in this scene but it should be noted that these are not elves, as they do not have pointed ears and are comprised of all women.
Here we see a group quite possibly looking for Ciri. At this point in the trailer, it’s not said but Ciri is Cintran Royalty as we’ll see in the next shot. The Nilfgardian Emperor Emhyr prizes Ciri and will later try to adopt her because of her Elder Blood and again, wants that power for himself and his Empire.
We get our first look at Yennifer, Geralt’s sorceress lover. Standing next to her trainer and teacher, Yen looks slightly different then the beautiful woman we see in the games. Yen was born as a twisted, crippled hunchback and was later abused by her father causing more injuries that never healed properly.
Later on in the trailer, we see Yen standing in what looks like a battlefield with no physical deformities. This is because, in The Witcher universe, Sorceresses can alter their physical appearances, so it’s very possible that this is what happened to Yen between when we see her deformed and in this shot, mixed with a shot of her later on, screaming in pain.
Here, we see Tessia Devree, Yen’s trainer and teacher levitating a rock. This scene is important for a few reasons. We hear the narrator talk about how the Elves taught humans who control Chaos and use it for magic. Also, notice as she levitates the rock, the flowers in her other hand slowly die, as magic in this universe comes at a price. The Sorceresses in this trailer; Yen, Tessia, and briefly Triss Merigold, are all Sources. Naturally born magic users who can practice especially powerful magic.
Here we meet our Narrator, Istredd. It would seem he’s giving Yen a lesson on magic history and Elves but notice the background. It would appear they are underground in some kind of crypt where dark magic could be performed. It’s also well to note, that Istredd is a long-time lover of Yen and will come into conflict with Geralt many times over this fact.
This is where we get a little bit more about Ciri. Her homeland of Cintra is invaded by the Nilfgaardian Empire and is soundly defeated as we can see in a later scene with the Cintra banners burning. Ciri is another Source, but untrained and difficult to control. Because of her Elder Blood, she is extremely powerful and is plagued by visions. She is instructed to find Geralt of Rivia by what I can guess is her dying mother in this scene. This is where Ciri begins the journey that takes her to several set pieces in the trailer, from showy fields, to what appears to be the Korath Desert and finally the forest where we first meet her. If the show is a direct adaptation from the books, this is where most of the plot of the show will transpire.
I’d regret it later if I didn’t include this heartbreakingly beautiful show of what appears to be the Isle of Thanedd across the long bridge to the Tower of Gold, the Sorceress school that Ciri will go to begin her training and learn to control her powers.
In the closing shot of the trailer, we see a huge monster rising out of the swamp. This could be a Kikimar, and it could also be a reference to another short story from The Last Wish called The Lesser Evil. In it, Geralt accepts a contract in the monster and travels to Blavakin. Again, trying to stay away from spoilers but it doesn’t end up pretty and it’s when Geralt earns his nickname, “The Butcher of Blavakin.”
In the final shot of the trailer, we see a sight that might be familiar to game players when you take too many potions and your toxicity meter is almost filled up. While in the game Geralt can slam many potions without feeling too much effect, in the books and what looks like the show, the potions are poison. Geralt’s enhanced metabolism helps him process the potions with little effect but it still causes some adverse side-effects and can make Geralt very sick.
That concludes this breakdown of The Witcher trailer. Is there anything I missed that you think I should have mentioned? Are you as excited as I am for the expansion of the popular series? Sound off in the comments below!