The Witcher: when brutal is beautiful
This show promised much in the way of intrigue, drama, magic, and monsters, and boy, oh boy, does it deliver. Visually, it’s spectacular. The costumes, sets, and landscapes are all breathtaking. But is it a worthy successor to HBO’s Game of Thrones as the king of fantasy series? If initial fan reactions are anything to go by, then hell yes.
Based on the books of the same name, the Witcher follows Geralt of Rivia – a Witcher, mutant and monster-killer for hire. He’s not worshipped as a hero at all, and is, at best, seen as just another sword for hire. Ultimately, Geralt is a good guy, while the monsters he encounters are more likely to be human than vicious supernatural creatures.
Henry Cavill as Geralt is pure perfection. A fan of the books and games, he’s captured the Witcher perfectly – his stony, gruff portrayal as the White Wolf is everything (I can confess to being a newly converted Cavill fan).
The fight scenes truly are breathtakingly choreographed ballets of death. Each thrust and parry of the sword is executed with precision.
The series beautifully weaves the tales of the Continent together, knitting the three main story arcs with magic and folklore, destiny and monsters. It faithfully brings Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s world to life. It’s brutal without ever feeling over the top, and even its brutality is beautiful, with sweeping shots and vivid colours, all masterfully bringing the right tone and mood to each scene.
When it comes to the portrayal of each character, viewers have a lot to sink their teeth into.
Anya Chalotra commands every scene she’s in as Yennifer of Vengaburg. She’s truly enchanting – violet eyes, lilac and gooseberries and all. Yennifer is driven and dangerous, and her search for purpose, power, and connection makes for an interesting story arc.
Princess Cirilla, the lion cub of Cintra, is also searching. Searching for destiny, family and Geralt. Freya Allan perfectly captures Ciri’s innocence and naivety, with just the right amount of inner power (she is a princess, after all). How these three characters meet, and how of each of their destinies are intertwined, makes for compelling viewing.
As do the monsters. What would a story about a monster-hunter be without horrific monsters? The glimpses given in the trailer do no justice to the beasts in the show – they’d be perfectly at home in a horror movie.
Seeing Cavill harnessing his inner Witcher to fight both monsters and humans is something else. The fight scenes truly are breathtakingly choreographed ballets of death. Each thrust and parry of the sword is executed with precision.
At its heart, the Witcher is a story about family – both losing and finding family. It’s about destiny. It’s about the ugly and beautiful. It’s magic.
Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich has done a remarkable job of bringing The Witcher to the screen, and Season 2 has already been confirmed. The bad news? We’ll have to wait until early 2021 for it.