Let’s break down Netflix’s Witcher trailer
The full-length trailer for Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher is finally here. What we’d seen before was just a teaser apparently, and there’s a vital distinction between ‘teaser’ and ‘trailer’ that someone should definitely have a long and serious discussion about in the comments where nobody else has to look at it.
Henry Cavill sounds great—gravelly like Doug Cockle in the games, but with his native English accent—and his hair looks better than it did in the first promo shot. Cavill’s sword-work seems decent as well. Since witchers are trained to fight monsters that can potentially kill them with a single blow, they’re trained to fight with a lot of spinning, turning the momentum of their dodges into attacks and aiming for weak spots whether in their enemies’ hide or armor. That’s exactly how Cavill fights here, apparently doing all his own stunts.
Let’s break the trailer down in detail.
Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) has purple eyes, just like in the books. Geralt doesn’t have the cat’s pupils he has in the games, but then he doesn’t in the books either—his eyes are only described as cat-like when he’s in the dark.
Five seconds in and there’s already a close-up of Henry Cavill’s butt, so this is off to a good start. There’s a reason to zoom and enhance other than Rivia’s ass, however. That’s not Geralt’s witcher medallion in his other hand but a brooch, which keen-eyed viewers will be able to follow throughout this trailer.
Geralt kills some soldiers (probably Nilfgaardian), and does a pirouette, which is very important as in the English translation of the early stories the word “pirouette” occurs about as frequently as the word “that”.
The chap with a lute over his shoulder is Jaskier (Joey Batey), which is what Dandelion will be called in the show just like he is in the original Polish. The scenery makes it look like this is from The Edge of the World, the story in which the witcher and the poet first meet, although it’s the only shot with Jaskier visible in the whole trailer.
Geralt uses the Aard sign to push back some thugs while Yennefer monologues about what a witcher is.
There’s a quick shot of a necrophage of some kind, maybe a ghoul or a foglet, and another one appears in the top-left for just a moment. This could be a scene from the story Something More, where Geralt finds a bunch of unnamed creatures under a bridge. Whatever it is, it looks like a pretty decent special effect.
Geralt fights in a market. This is one of several scenes in the trailer from The Lesser Evil, depicting the event that gives the witcher his nickname ‘the Butcher of Blaviken’. Good luck to that one dude who brought a crossbow to a sword fight.
Yep, that’s an orgy. A flashback in Something More shows Geralt and Yennefer bumping into each other during the wild revels of Belleteyn, which this could be, although Yennefer talks like this is her first time meeting a witcher. Nice to see that Cavill can pull off Geralt’s dry sense of humor.
That monument looks like a Place of Power and all those people are clearly marching up to collect their free skill point. Actually, no. Looking closely, it’s more likely to be the party from the story The Bounds of Reason off on their dragon hunt.
Here’s a close-up of one of Geralt’s sword hilts. Notice that gold adornment on it? That’s the brooch he was carrying right at the start of the trailer, now permanently affixed to his weapon. It’s obviously something significant.
Townsfolk in Blaviken stone Geralt after he butchers some very bad people in their marketplace. So ungrateful! Note his medallion, rounded rather than pointy like the version in the videogames.
Princess Renfri (a sort of Snow White analogue, played by Emma Appleton), quizzes Geralt about why he protects people even though they hate and fear him. There on Renfri’s shoulder is the brooch we keep seeing. The confrontation between these two is an important, character-defining moment, and this version of Geralt seems to keep Renfri’s jewelry to remind him of it.
Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May), Ciri’s grandmother, tells her to flee. Ciri’s older here than she was in the books and although there’s a lot of conspiratorial fan theories about why, apparently it’s just because they couldn’t find a child actor who was right for the role.
Here’s Freya Allen as Princess Cirilla.
Geralt fights his way through a banquet while wearing some nice clothes. This is likely the scene from A Question of Price in which he’s disguised as ‘Honourable Lord Ravix of Fourhorn’. The original story ends with him claiming the then-unborn Ciri through the Law of Surprise, but who knows how the timeline of the show will work out.
That horse can’t possibly be Roach. She’s not on a rooftop or anything.
They did it, they put him in the bathtub. Although you can’t see his feet. NETFLIX, YOU COWARDS.
That’s Eamon Farren from Twin Peaks as Cahir, the Nilfgaardian who doesn’t like to be called a Nilfgaardian. He’s a character who doesn’t show up until the full-length novels, although if the show depicts more of the war between Cintra and Nilfgaard as seems likely, it makes sense for him to be around earlier. Note also the wrinkly armor, which still looks kind of soft and goofy to me.
And here’s Adam Levy as Mousesack the druid, who appears in several of the stories and seems to be here to play the role of the paternal wizard-y type who talks about destiny a lot.
Geralt’s speech about evil is word for word from The Lesser Evil, although you may also know it from a badass cinematic trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Here it is in full:
“Evil is evil, Stregobor,” said the witcher seriously as he got up. “Lesser, greater, middling, it’s all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I’m not a pious hermit. I haven’t done only good in my life. But if I’m to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”
Yennefer and Queen Kalis of Lyria (Isobel Laidler) run through the desert, pursued by men and a spider you can barely see over the queen’s shoulder which looks kind of mechanical. Yennefer’s backstory is being fleshed out in this first season and these scenes of her apparently teleporting around the world—from desert to snow to a field of flowers—must be part of that.
The battle scenes are probably from the war between Cintra and Nilfgaard that breaks out during The Last Wish and spreads across the later novels. We’ll probably get to see iconic fights like the Battle of Sodden Hill, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was rewritten in a way that meant Geralt was present for it.
Geralt all dosed-up on potions and as far from human as he gets as he prepares to fight a kikimore in a swamp.
Finally, the logo. The wolf obviously represents Geralt, and the star is for Yennefer (she wears “a black velvet choker with a star-shaped jewel sparkling with diamonds” in The Last Wish which you can see around her neck in the trailer), while the bird is a swallow—one of Ciri’s many nicknames. While the short stories focused on Geralt, the novels feature multiple viewpoint characters and this logo seems to symbolize the show taking a similar approach.