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The Best Distillation of 'The Witcher' Isn't on Netflix

If you want to see a more accurate version of Geralt of Rivia in the flesh, don't overlook this 2016 fan film, 'The Witcher: First Hunt.'

by Tauriq Moosa
Jan 10 2020, 8:30pm

Image courtesy of 38 Pictures

Not to be confused with Netflix’s The Witcher, The Witcher: First Hunt is a seven-minute fan film made in 2016, one you absolutely can stream on Amazon Video. Written and directed by Christopher Nunez, from 38 Pictures, it depicts a younger Geralt out on his... well, first hunt.

This is a low-budget production, and it shows.

There is precisely one scene depicted, with an awfully drawn and animated intro sequence that has the same quality as a poor illustration out of a school history textbook.

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(Why is the man naked? I do not know.)

A narrator introduces the scene, delivering his lines to an almost parody-level of cheese, then vanishes never to be heard from again.

In the film, Geralt is hunting a creature who appears to have killed and controlled some soldiers. He manages to kill the creature, along with its undead minions, using a combination of sword-play and magic, receiving his now infamous scar.

That’s it. That’s the entire film.

It’s only seven minutes long...and I adore it. The scene captures the tension of a hunt Geralt most often engages in: The darkness, the unknown, being the hunter and hunted, Geralt alone except for his beloved horse. He has to manage not only the rules of the supernatural, but also undead sword-wielding creatures. It’s the kind of schlock I so adore about the Witcher franchise. It’s nonsense and it’s gory, but it’s enjoyable, since you know Geralt will triumph against seemingly unconquerable foes. It’s cathartic in its reassurance.

The film even delivers on some of the mechanics and rules of the world: Geralt’s wolf medallion jiggling due to the presence of magic, the use of silver, his vulnerability, using small magic spells to control the situation.

Nunez and crew managed to capture Geralt’s cat eyes better than the Netflix show. (Even the wolf medallion and sword hilt is in keeping with the classic iconography of the games and books, unlike the Netflix series.) In the Netflix show, we rarely got long scenes like this, where Geralt methodically investigates and must deal with the forces around him. The only line of dialogue James Edwards’ Geralt says is “sulfur,” which is exactly the kind of thing Geralt would say to himself.

There’s clear love for the franchise and games on display. The crew did a great job with the music and sound effects, given the tiny budget they had to work with.

I would rather have lots of these short segments of Geralt actually hunting monsters than the bland attempts and mess of timelines Netflix is attempting. First Hunt’s crew kept it simple, but let us see Geralt in his full glory as a monster hunter. Even here, on his first hunt, he’s cocky and seems to be enjoying himself more than seems... well, proper.

There’s no need to learn the creature’s names, the army, the land— it’s just a monster that needs some silver through its chest. No doubt limitations of budget dictate everything, much like a medium does, but this is why The Witcher is an ideal franchise to have a procedural stories like this.

If you're looking for more, here’s a more recent fan film, with a Geralt actor who looks like he’s straight from the games.

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