The Witcher author on adaptations: “They’re almost always worse”


“Are you satisfied with the script?” the interviewer asked The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski a few months before Netflix premiered its first season of the Henry Cavill series. The author, well known for his controversial humor, did not answer “by the book”. The video is available on YouTube, and we have the translation’s transcript below.

“Why not? Yeah, I’m… It’s not as good as my books. That’s how adaptations work. Adaptations of every genre, every media can be described in the form of a curve which is called the Gaussian Curve. It sounds much better in Italian, when I give lectures in Italy. It’s: ‘La Curva de Gauss!‘ I always say it with pleasure, huge pleasure.”

“So this La Curva de Gauss,” said Sapkowski. “Resembles, as you all know or don’t know, I’m not sure if it was taught in every faculty… [coughs] But it resembles a huge tit. [Sapkowski uses hand gestures to draw a Gaussian Tit in the air] And you can say that at the very bottom of this tit, this Gaussian Curve, are adaptations that are terrible. They’re so bad and far from the original, that you feel depressed. Then you go up and up and at the top of the Gaussian Curve are adaptations that we perceive as worse [than the original]. Nothing more, just worse. And then we go down the curve and we see adaptations that are less and less bad and, finally, at the very bottom, we see adaptations that are… better. A big rarity. A rarity. It would be faster to find a swamp turtle in Ner than that kind of adaption, but they exist. I, personally, know at least three.”

“So they exist?” the interviewer asked. Sapkwoski confirms: “They exist. Maybe not in Poland or in Ner, but good adaptations exist. However, adaptations, generally, are always worse. Always. They can’t be better, cause then what? Back to school!”

Here we see Costume Designer Tim Aslam showing Sapkowski the show’s designs, with EP Tomek Baginski near by

This isn’t the first adaption of Sapkowski’s Saga. Before Netflix hired Henry Cavill for the role, and even before CD Projekt RED released their acclaimed trilogy of video games, The Witcher was made into a Polish TV show (and film) titled The Hexer. Very few fans of the saga appreciated the Polish TV show, and Sapkowski recognizes that the filming industry has come a long way. Things were handled very differently in the Netflix version.

“I can only say I was on the set. I saw how it’s done. Oh, Jesus, it’s a totally different thing. Now [it’s not just] that director with this [megaphone, screaming commands], with a folding chair. There are chairs. Even I had my own – Andrzej Sapkowski written on the back. But everything is with computers… Everything. The scenes take place everywhere. I mean, not in a different city, but in another, let’s say, room… on the set. The rest of the set [is full of computers].”

Showrunner Lauren Hissrich interviews Sapkowski during his set visit

Sapkowski shared two other highlights from his set visit. “I got to know [Henry Cavill], the actor who plays the witcher. He had a cool costume and this whole characterization. Yes. It [was all shot] in Hungary – there were probably five big hangars. But very big. Huge! It all takes place there, and I’ve heard this little ‘village’ is not even the biggest of its kind in Hungary. They’ve got colossal tax credits. People that do all that stuff. So they opened up a lot of [film studios].”

“I sneaked there,” said Sapkowski. “And now I don’t have to hide anything. I sneaked secretly because, in the nearest hangar, Jodorowski was making Dune! So I sneaked there but, aside from a big desert, there was nothing there. Just one big, huge desert. But what else should we expect? Dune!”

7 comments on “The Witcher author on adaptations: “They’re almost always worse””

  1. Maybe it’s just me but I find his books to be on the boring side. The overall story is interesting and I enjoy the characters, but some of his writing drags on and on. Baptism of Fire was one of the most well-written wastes of my time ever. The Netflix series has stayed the story and made everything interesting. The games are also good but act as a sequel to his books. I get he’s proud of his work but he seems overly critical of everything based on it regardless of the quality.

  2. The Witcher from Netflix, sucks! But at least something good came out of this is that the author of the books realized how bad the program is and how amazing is the CDPR!

  3. The more I watch the show, the more and more I am disappointed …
    It really sucks, because The Witcher is one of my favorite fantasy worlds of all time, but certain things about this program
    do not do it justice. I feel that all the actors are too good for writing and producing the screen. CGI is especially bad and makes me think
    that I’m watching a Syfy level B channel program. Things look really hectic and a lot of the writing looks bad.
    I want to enjoy this program so much that I gave every chance I could. I tried to see beyond all the flaws, I really tried to immerse myself, but
    I still think it’s bad. As someone who is, I would say, at this point, a super fan of The Witcher, it seems just amazing. It hurts even if I
    feel that way and it hurts to say i’m saying this, but it’s true. The actors are phenomenal, Cavill plays an incredible Geralt, Ciri, Jaskier and
    Yen are all brilliant when it comes to acting, but the value of production and writing are really affecting me. Some parts that I
    I feel are almost laughable. Again, the acting is great, but the CGI and the writing are dreadful.

    1. I am with you Lucas. As a big fan of the Witcher franchise I couldn’t be more depressed after watching the Netflix show. I could have ignored the forced diversity if the writing and the world building was handled correctly. It is a mess, a big mess! It is as if all the different writers made their own version of every episode. No cohesion whatsoever. I tried to immerse myself because I wanted to like it so badly. Now I only want it to fail, but the positive reviews keep falling out of the sky. Why are so many people satisfied with crap nowadays? Unbelievable…

      1. why would you want it to fail? wouldn’t you wan’t it to do better the second season?

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