So, lately more rumours have emerged as to the new Witcher movie slated for a 2017 release.
Rumours as to a movie and a hypothetical TV show, ‘based on themes’ (c) from the first short story collection.
And they kinda make me (and my good friend) go WTF.
In my case, it’s not even that much a question of cast – which I’m fairly sure I’m not going to be impressed with unless the creators pull a Tom Fontana and produce a handful of brilliant unknowns out of a magician’s hat. Come to think of it, I could do with Mark Ryder as Dandelion and Isolda Dychauk as Triss. But Geralt? I don’t see any big name capable of nailing the role. You need a Ray Park for the swordplay and a frellin’ Cumberbatch or at least a Balfour for the drama; and then there is the nagging question of ‘how do you even shoot a male lead who is supposed to be a ladies’ magnet all the while being basically as close to an albino as it gets’ – how will it read onscreen? That’s one tough technical issue to overcome.
I’m not even talking about the actual look – in the books and largely in-game as well, Geralt is all dramatic lines and sharp angles; while most male actors these days seem to have that rounded sort of look about their faces. And too much girth.
Oh yeah, and that hypothetical Perfect Possible Lead ™ should not pull a Keith Hamilton Cobb and flat out refuse to wear contacts (thus cheating the whole Andromeda show out of the Nietzscheans’ feline eyes): the fact that witchers have slit pupils is something you just can’t throw out of the window. It’s like the fact the elves have pointed ears. That’s how racists tell humans and non-humans apart.
And if you take racism out of the Witcher universe, you might just as well throw the whole of it out said window.
Which brings me to my biggest concern.
I’m not in the least bit worried about the director – it’s that Polish guy who was involved in doing the cinematics for the CDPR games, and these were impeccable. But…
Eureka?! Drop Dead Diva?! BUFFY?! Chicago frellin’ Fire?!
And I don’t care if there is a Balfour connection (Ms St John was also doing Veritas: the Quest, one of those one-season shows that Eric was in) – for all I know, I admire Eric as an actor, and maybe he could even pull off a Geralt if he were to study under Ray Park for a few years… but I don’t want to see a writer connected with those shows listed above (which are all not exactly the type I find especially exciting, to put it mildly; sorry to all the Buffy fans out there, but I have a right to have an opinion) doing anything involving any re-interpreting of pan Sapek’s ideas.
And given the ‘based on themes’ line – and ‘The Lesser Evil’ being specifically mentioned afterwards – I can’t help but feel we’re in for a major facepalm/headdesk dance here.
The Hexer – the original Polish TV series/movie – was exactly that. ‘Based on’.
You don’t have to ‘base’ a Perfect Possible Witcher Screenplay ™ on anything. You just need to follow the book and polish the dialogue for live action or move scenes around a bit (maybe). The Witcher stories and novels are perfectly cinematic, and I’m sorry but you need to be a real writer and not a random screenplay author to actually bring any extra value to them.
And ‘The Lesser Evil’ is a damn bad choice for a pilot. It’s bleak; it’s one-dimensional; and while it does introduce a few ideas, it does little outside that. The only thing that could sell it would be sex scenes with Renfri (not explicitly found in the text, mind you). // and here’s to hoping Renfri wouldn’t be given a glamorous makeover to increase ‘sex appeal’ or whatever… // Yeah, the original ‘Witcher’ story is also mentioned among the sources of the ‘themes’… but it’s pointless IMO to rehash it once again. The very first game had the key fight in its opening cinematic. The events framing the fight aren’t important enough to warrant screentime outside of a couple short flashbacks maybe.
If I were in charge (and I had no way to start with adapting the latest novel – Season of Storms – which to me is the best introduction to the universe, despite – or because of? – being the latest to come out), I’d rip into the central story of the first volume right away:
The Last Wish.
It’s fast-paced. It has drama, magic, social conflict, humour, and, well, sex. It establishes a lot of crucial themes: Dandelion in distress; the whole Geralt/Yen dynamic; Geralt being, well, Geralt in all his glory, misery, smarts and stupidity; a whole load of assorted prejudices…
Could be amazing out of the box.