Back in his youth, according to an excellent documentary series on a YouTube channel (No-Clip), Marcin Iwaninski, a Pole on the other side of the Iron Curtain, was fascinated by a fantasy epic coined by a local writer, Andrzej Sapkowski. The shock to the kid’s mind was to find a Tolkien living around the corner. And from that seed germinated a controversial and extremely successful Polish company, of which Iwaninski is the founder, video game developer, CD Projekt Red, which turned that series of novels into a worldwide phenomenon that accumulates more than 50 million copies, as revealed by the own company. From there, to the Netflix series and to the marquees of the whole world. The platform premieres the second season of one of the biggest hits in its history on December 17.
Henry Cavill, the protagonist of those canopies, looks relaxed and charming, more Superman than Warlock during the interview, conducted by videoconference before the summer. He is fascinated, like everyone else, by the phenomenon, which would raise an eyebrow or directly provoke the laughter of Hollywood just a few decades ago: turning Polish Tolkien into a worldwide phenomenon. Make a book that becomes a video game become one of the audiovisual phenomena of the present.
Cavill, however, is cautious, contrary to this wave that seems, especially on platforms streaming, promise to turn any work into a global phenomenon, no matter where it comes from: “You don’t have to put the cart before the oxen. First, Sapkowski published the novel. Then came the Polish movie. And then videogames, which made it a worldwide phenomenon but little by little. It was not until The Witcher 3 that the thing exploded ”.
Cavill goes to great lengths to theorize about this singular phenomenon, why The Witcher and others not. “There are lots of equally good works that don’t get it. And it is true that the series made it an even greater global phenomenon, but it is that the games and books [más de 15 millones de copias vendidas hasta la fecha] they had already built a huge audience. The question we all ask ourselves is: What was the catalyst? Well, it probably requires the effort of great artists, such as CD Projekt Red [los creadores del videojuego], give life to that world. Their work was exceptional and the genre they chose, the sandbox [juegos con enorme extensión de terreno para que el jugador explore con gran libertad] it was perfect for making what we could call a free, immersive version of the books ”.
It becomes clear that Henry Cavill is a child of his time. Its Apollo appearance, like a Hellenic statue, hides what we commonly call geek and whose pejorative meaning has suffered a spectacular erosion in the last decade. Cavill filmed himself installing his computer’s graphics card in a video that nearly three million views on YouTube. Jokes about him. “Not to brag but… Yes, I have a GeForce RTX 3090 [una de las tarjetas gráficas más potentes y codiciadas del mercado] and it is a dream … “Shortly afterwards he reflects:” The truth is that it is comforting to be able to say that you are gamer and don’t feel ashamed about it. I have lived through this transition of being accepted as a cultural medium and I am very, very happy that it is like this now ”.
Are you planning to change sides, change pixels by frames? “On the one hand, it’s something you think about but, on the other, it would be turning a hobby that I love into work.” What is clear to him, and, surprise, not only in front of the camera, is that there are many video games pending adaptation that are very suggestive. “I would love to be one of those who tell the story this time. And yes, there are specific video games that I would be passionate about adapting. But, if you will allow me, I would like to keep them a secret. ” Cavill would thus join the trend that has placed front-line actors and creators in the adaptation of video games: the most paradigmatic case, the adaptation of The Last of Us from HBO with the creator of Chernobyl, Craig Mazin, at the helm, and a cast led by the ubiquitous Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Narcos…).
And of the second season, little can count [este periódico pudo ver los dos primeros episodios para realizar la entrevista], but it does delve into the aspect that has worked the most about his famous sorcerer for his return: “I have pushed a lot to make Geralt look more like the Geralt from the books. I wanted it to be more intellectual and to represent more of the archetype of the wise man who has lived between 70 and 90 years this season. There was no opportunity in the first season to delve into the kind of complex dialogue that Sapkowski portrays in the books. So I made the decision, on purpose, that Geralt should speak less and observe more. But in this season that aspect of the literary Geralt I think comes to light ”.
‘The Witcher 3’: the springboard of the saga
The third installment in Geralt of Rivia’s game saga, which ends the trilogy developed by the Polish studio CD Projekt RED, became by numbers one of the most important video games of the century. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt places the player several years after the Netflix fiction, where Geralt will have to find and save an adult and mature Ciri – compared to the girl in the series -, chased by The Wild Hunt, an ancient group of specters who have her in the spotlight following a prophecy.
While the hunting of beasts and your work as a witch are one of the main engines of the game, the interaction with the locals and the missions that the protagonist has to complete, as complete as the main plot, result in a world that feels alive. Launched in 2015, it was for five years the most awarded video game in history with 260 awards for best game of the year, awarded by critics, and which catapulted the Polish studio –The Last Of Us Parte II he took away the crown in 2020, with 261—. It owes part of its success to its narrative, its successful visuals, the versatility of its gameplay, the decision-making and the immersion that its huge world offers the player.
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