As good as The Witcher trilogy of games are, The Witcher 3 serves as the most popular and critically acclaimed entry in the video game series. When looking at all of what The Wild Hunt does well, it's hard not to understand why. There's an open world that puts Skyrim to shame in terms of size and attention to detail. Plus, there's a collection of engaging and often surprising quests and stories designed to challenge the player's skills and morals. And not to mention the long list of well written characters who sound and act like convincing members of a fully realized world. Gamers got the best side of the Witcher in what is probably the last game in the series, and for both new and old fans of Geralt of Rivia, that's a bit of a bummer.
At least it would be, if a movie wasn't just announced. Slated for release in 2017, a cinematic version of The Witcher will tell a tale of the White Wolf based on some of the short stories in author Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish. The idea of turning a great video game into a movie is one that would rightfully get someone pretty nervous, as Hollywood has a pretty bad track record for watchable game adaptations. But if there's anything that could be targeted as a potential positive as far as a Witcher movie's chances, it's that the source material isn't a game, it's a series of books.
That isn't to say that books are just inherently better sources for movie adaptations than games simply because they're books. But books and movies have a pretty defining characteristic in common with one another: they're both pretty passive experiences. Save for the choose your own adventure variety, books will always be what they are. You turn the page to initiate the next portion of a set story and experiences crafted for you to read a certain way, and that's where the interactivity starts and ends. Hit play on a remote, and two hours later, a movie has happened in front of you. No real input is required besides your attention. Games are a bit of a different monster.
The interactivity is why games are such a unique and difficult medium to translate. Usually, the best part of experiencing a game is playing it, so when you remove the play aspect and just focus on the surrounding narratives, you may find that everything that's left isn't quite good enough to stand on its own. That Sands of Time saga in Prince of Persia is charming because the act of moving from stage to stage resembles a bed time story, complete with Princess Bride-esque narration. When enjoyable combat and clever platforming puzzles are removed, you have a Jake Gyllenhall vehicle that leaves much to be desired. If it wasn't for the fact that a legacy of literature was the original inspiration for the first Witcher game on PC, then the general trepidation surrounding its adaptation would be welcome. In this way, the Witcher might be the most qualified game to be adapted to screen.
This goes without even mentioning the fact that The Witcher has already been a movie and TV show. And it probably should, since The Hexer isn't very good. It was a hot mess when it debuted in Poland in 2001, and a year later the 13 episode TV series would hit airwaves and further disappoint fans of the book and newly courted tv watchers alike. The movie was just a heavily edited version of the series, mashing the series down into a hodgepodge of slow motion sword swinging that clocked in just over 2 hours. The series made a little more sense, but was still heavily derided for many liberties it took with the source material.
Changing the original material to fit a movie style story isn't new, mind you. Practically every adaptation tweaks elements at least a little bit, and this new Witcher adaptation will be no different. Though it will be based on two popular stories from The Last Wish - "The Witcher" and "The Lesser Evil" - we can expect liberties to be taken. In a press release that announced the movie's existence, it was mentioned that this will not be a straight up adaptation, but will use "the themes" of these stories. Which, as Witcher faithful remember, has been done before in the games. In the first Witcher game, the mission "Her Highness the Striga" is essentially a truncated version of the short story "The Witcher" in The Last Wish. The Witcher 3 features an in game book called The Last Wish, which basically recaps the story of how Geralt and his lover, Yennefer, met and serves as an optional prelude to the mission of the same name, which brings closure to the story that was started in the pages of Sapkowski's most famous work.
The only talent attached to the film so far is director Tomasz Baginski, a director who specializes in short films, one of which (Cathedral) was nominated for an Oscar. Thania St. John, of Grimm and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, will pen the script, and Platige Image will produce the film, with the help of the Sean Daniel Company (The Mummy Series).
Platige is known for their excellent video game cinematic work, including trailers for The Witcher 3, Halo 5, and Total War: Warhammer. That pedigree, plus Baginski's pattern of small, poignant films, means we won't have to sit through something like Resident Evil, a movie that has no business being live action or more than an hour long. Short, tight narratives and small, well-shot sequences is what St. John's TV work and Baginski's works can only be a good omen for a book looking to bring a pair of smaller stories to life.
This, of course, is all speculation. Not much is known about what this movie is to become, but we can be hopeful. Come by The Witcher Wiki and check out everything there is to know about The White Wolf's adventures. Hit us up on Twitter @CurseGamepedia, and tell us what Witcher stories you'd like to see as films.
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.