Bright Side

4 Reasons Why “The Witcher” Is the Most Controversial Series of This Winter


The new series The Witcher from Netflix was probably the most highly-anticipated series of 2019: the books by Andrzej Sapkowski about the adventures of Geralt of Rivia sold millions of copies and the audience of the game-series, based on the books, is more than 30 million people strong. Now that fans have seen their favorite characters in a high-budget TV project, for some reason, not everyone is satisfied.

We at Bright Side have already seen the first season of The Witcher and we decided to find out why the famous screen adaptation of the novel turned out to be so divisive.

The novels, written by the Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, are set in a fantasy world that looks a lot like Europe in the Middle Ages, with one huge difference: this story has room for magic, elves, and monsters. In order to fight against the monsters, witchers, mutants with superhuman abilities, were created.

A little bit about the plot

Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, travels around the world and earns a living by killing monsters. Once, Geralt helped the royal family — he saved the lover of the princess, and instead of a payment, he asked him for something that he had, but didn’t know yet. It turned out that the princess was pregnant and her future daughter, ‎Cirilla, and the witcher became forever connected. Soon, Ciri will be in big trouble but for now, she has a protector.

Another plot is the relationship between Geralt and sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg: she secretly wishes to have a happy family and a child that she just can’t have. But now she has Geralt, they are also connected forever but for a different reason. Their relationship is developing while there is a war that Nilfgaard started against the rest of the world. Their king is not just interested in the battles — he is looking for Ciri. But why?

Unexpected cast

From the moment the news about the upcoming project appeared, a lot of time passed before the actual cast was announced. So fans had enough time to find the candidates for the main roles. For example, many people wanted to see the charismatic Mads Mikkelsen as Geralt, and the amazing Eva Green as Yennefer.

But the creators of the series see their characters differently. This is why it came as a shock when fans found out that Henry Cavill was going to be Geralt. He is a strong man, who is known mostly for his portrayal of Superman. The first photos of Cavill as Geralt shocked everyone — the fans noticed the big differences between the appearance of the book character and Cavill’s Geralt. The real witcher is supposed to be pretty slim and flexible with silver hair, an unpleasant face, and a creepy grin.

The same goes for Yennefer of Vengerberg: the writer described her as a woman of amazing beauty with a pale triangle-shaped face, violet eyes, and thin lips. But the Yennefer from the show, played by Anya Chalotra, looks completely different: thanks to her Indian origin, her skin is quite dark. The fans were disappointed by the actress since they were expecting the sorceress from the latest game, that most fans absolutely loved. One of the fans even replaced the face of the actress with the face of the Yennefer from the game (and it looks pretty creepy).

However, many fans were pleased with the actress for Princess Cirilla: the young Freya Allan, with her Scandinavian appearance, is almost the perfect match for the role. The only difference is that the Princess was about 10 years old in the book and the actress is obviously older.

By the way, the series still has one Mikkelsen: the sorcerer Stregobor is portrayed by Mads’s brother — Lars, if you can even recognize him with his bushy eyebrows and his beard.

Complicated storytelling

The Witcher doesn’t abide by the usual linear storytelling. For example, the first episode shows Queen Calanthe’s death and Ciri’s escape. But 2 episodes later, the Queen is alive and Ciri was not even born yet. And these transitions happen during the entire season. This way of storytelling was chosen by the creators, to show the different plots and make sure that all the characters meet in season 1.

While this may sound pretty clear in text, most viewers (especially the ones that didn’t know anything about Geralt) got confused by the events. But the plot of The Witcher also has a big advantage: the writers decided to enrich the very important storylines that were mentioned in passing by the author of the books. So, you can see the dramatic story of Yennefer, the fall of Cintra, and the big battle of Sodden Hill.

Great atmosphere

Despite all the disadvantages, Netflix was able to create a very beautiful picture: the shooting process took place in Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland. The spirit of the European Middle Ages can be seen in every set and some scenes were filmed in real ancient buildings, for example, the battle of Sodden Hill was shot in the Ogrodzieniec Castle in Poland. And this is another reason why not only the most loyal Witcher fans will like the show, but also the people that love high-quality fantasy projects.

Besides, it is amazing how much time the creators spent working on the lighting and the colors — the Brokilon forest alone, with its ambient light, deserves your attention. And in order to make the picture even more appealing and natural, the creators decided to not film anything in the studio.

Many of the fans that were disappointed by the casting, changed their opinion on the fly: Henry Cavill was able to understand the character and portray him correctly, and Yennefer, played by Anya Chalotra, is the “right” Yennefer: confident, strong, and arrogant, but still very sensitive. And the supporting actors are also great: they make the story a bit more fun, while the main plot is very serious and dramatic.

Unforgettable soundtrack

Many fans really liked the fitting soundtrack: composer Sonya Belousova not only used violins and lutes, but also more rare folk instruments, like the hurdy-gurdy, the psaltery, and the Appalachian dulcimer in order to compose the authentic music.

The ballad of the bard Jaskier, about “tossing a coin to your Witcher” became an instant hit. The internet got filled with jokes about the catchy song about Geralt’s work. People recorded covers and shared their impressions. Even Elon Musk tweeted about it.

Joey Batey himself, who portrayed Jaskier, said that the song was so catchy that he couldn’t stop singing it for 8 months after the filming ended. And we totally believe him.

In conclusion

The series is really controversial: on the one hand, the complicated storytelling doesn’t allow the viewers to clearly understand what is going on right away, and the final cast didn’t live up to the fans’ expectations. On the other hand, the great sets, the amazing landscapes, the acting, and the unusual ideas kind of overweigh the negative aspects of the project. The success of the series was proven by the amazing sales of the books and the game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt around the world. 4 days after its release, The Witcher was already the highest-rated Netflix show on IMDb.

We want to thank another huge project — Game of Thrones which made viewers ready to accept fantasy projects. And the complicated, but still very interesting, The Witcher is nothing short of a fantasy.

Have you already seen this new series about Geralt of Rivia? Are there fans of the books among our readers? What do you think about this Netflix project?