Why The Witcher is not just about monsters and magic

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Thirty-three years ago, a short story titled The Witcher was published in Fantastyka magazine. This story, written by Andrzej Sapkowski, introduced readers to a world that will soon be brought to life on Netflix, with a cast led by Sueprman‘s Henry Cavill. People unfamiliar with the franchise would assume this series is about monsters and magic but, as in the source material, The Witcher conceals beneath its fantasy elements a very human story. This matter was addressed in Radio ZET‘s recent interview with Executive Producer Tomek Baginski, originally held in Polish. We’ve translated Baginski’s comment below.

“I think Lauren and her writing team is so great and experienced that I’m not worried about translations. Sure, there are some things that change because of translation and you can’t change everything word-for-word into English or any other language, as the show will be accessible in over 190 countries. So in every country the show will be received differently as diverse viewers will watch the show with different cultural backgrounds, attitudes and languages, but I think the most important things are translated properly.”

Sapkowski’s prose is often praised for its witty antics and deep characterization. This too, Baginski insists, has not been lost in the adaption. “It’s not just the humor […], but also Sapkowski’s humanism. I think the world matured and we’re moving away from stories where everything is black and white, good or evil. We’re moving away from it because the world is more complicated than that. For us, Poles, it was easier to understand, because we’re in a place between Russia and Germany, who used Poland as a big battlefield [during World War II] and we had to learn that good and evil are more complicated. [It’s not that] one side is good, the other is bad; that those guys are cool and those are not. It changes all the time, so we had to build our own moral code, kind of a ‘Geralt’ code.”

“Now the whole world is like that. Everything is complicated. You don’t know who’s good, who’s evil. Maybe we’re all a bit good and a bit evil and it all depends on the situation. And we need the Geralts. People who have their own moral code, a code that is pure.”

Baginski refers, of course, to the series titular character Geralt of Rivia, played by the aforementioned Henry Cavill. In the books, Geralt believes in neutrality, and the moral philosophy behind his evolving code of ethics is a central theme in the series.

“Andrzej’s books are mostly focused on the characters, on people. The monsters, fantasy kingdoms and great battles are all in the background of these stories about people, very nuanced and deep stories. It’s an interesting example compared to other Polish literature, because we have great literature, but we have very little characters. But in Sapkowski’s books there a lot of them. They’re leaking out of the pages, they’re colorful, interesting, attractive. And Polish literature is rather more about the ideas. Even the great fantasy literature that comes from Poland is more about ideas, it brings great world-building and interesting staging, but with the characters it depends. But it’s the opposite with Sapkowski’s stories, and that gave us some great content to use for the show, great content for Lauren and the writers. And it gave us direction; that we’re telling a story about people, and the battles, spells, magic, monsters and fights are all just additions.”

The Witcher releases on Netflix in December 20. In the meantime, some fortunate critics and fans were able to get their hands on the series’ first five episodes. Read the article below for their first thoughts.

READ MORE: Critics have seen The Witcher’s first five episodes: Here are their thoughts

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