While it may have garnered more attraction and appeal through the release of the TV series on Netflix, which has proven to be a massive hit for the streaming platform, ‘The Witcher’ has long been enjoyed as another form of entertainment medium by its fans.
Many were aware of its first release as a book series that was written by Andrzej Sapkowski, however it arguably took off when it was launched as a game series. Millions of people all over the world were captivated by the game series when first released, as it featured a unique blend of sorcery and adventure which was set in the middle of the Medieval period; things that are evident in the Henry Cavill-led TV show.
However, if you did not know that Sapkowski was the brains behind the books that were written, then it would be possible to be unaware of the fact that the series is rich in Polish heritage. When digging deep and reading between the lines, it is evident that the author used his native country as a way of creating the stories that were told, through the use of national culture and traditions.
With the success of the game series, many were starting to take a real interest in Polish history and culture. Most are already aware of modern historic events surrounding the eastern European country, especially with how it was occupied in the Second World War by Germany and used as a place where some of the world’s most famous concentration camps were located; Auschwitz being the one many instantly think of.
Nonetheless, the creation of ‘The Witcher’ made older history across Poland more interesting and created a desire for many to learn more about what times were like in the country. Some would even look up how to learn Polish and find online courses with native private tutors who could help them to understand the language and cultural nuances that would have been experienced during the time in order to give them a greater understanding and appreciation of Sapkowski’s work.
How does ‘The Witcher’ bring Polish heritage and culture to life?
With the help of the book series, the games that were created based on ‘The Witcher’ helped to highlight the Polish heritage and culture that was used by the author. It also draws from the political history of medieval Poland and the country’s neighbors in a variety of ways, thus helping to bring these aspects to life even further.
However, the most evident aspect of the ‘The Witcher’ series that highlights that Slavic and Polish folktales were used as sources of influence for Sapkowski’s work were in regard to the use of creatures and beasts that were told of, instead of traditional goblins and orcs. Furthermore, the use of locations like Nilfgaard and Skellige were representative of the medieval Holy Roman Empire (modern-day Germany) and Scandinavia.
Polish culture and heritage can also be seen brought to life through the use of the characters and the gender roles that were depicted throughout the entire game series. The main protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, highlights Polish traditions in regard to what he can often be seen wearing. His long, dark-blue tunic and the medallion he wears can be seen as a symbol of his profession as a beast slayer and monster hunter, but it can also be identified as a symbol of the real-life Order of the White Eagle. It is Poland’s highest honor that is awarded to civilians and military personnel for their service, while the White Eagle is also renowned for being the national emblem.
Women also play a vitally huge role throughout ‘The Witcher’, which is not quite the norm that has been expected in other medieval-themed entertainment mediums. Most will make women appear to be inferior to their male counterparts, and their only roles would be to look after the family and the home while their husband is the breadwinner and the individual to help the family survive. In ‘The Witcher’ game series, the women are powerful and respected figures, which highlights tradition in Polish culture. Characters like Ciri and Yennefer of Vengerberg, as well as the women that are based at Aretuza, are all extremely powerful, intelligent, and highly respected within their circles among their male peers.
Aside from the fact that ‘The Witcher’ pays homage to Polish traditions and the country’s heritage, it has been recognized domestically on a grand scale. Geralt of Rivia has appeared on national postage stamps in the past, while also going on to become one of the country’s greatest exports.
It is clear to see that ‘The Witcher’ game series has helped to bring Polish culture and heritage to life, albeit through a commercial product that has gone on to achieve global success. Nonetheless, with Sapkowski using certain themes that date back to the country’s medieval era, it is clear that it can provide those looking for a lesson in Slavic history with something beneficial.