The first episode of The Witcher made two things clear: we should expect blood, and Henry Cavill knows his fighting onions.
Andrzej Sapkowski’s epic world was well loved long before Netflix adapted it for the screen. Through books and a critically-acclaimed series of video games, Geralt of Rivia’s monster-hunting antics have long been a hit around the globe.
But there’s always room for more bloody fantasies – and with the The Witcher‘s climactic Blaviken fight at the end of the first episode, viewers indulged in grotesquely awesome swordplay. Now, Geralt himself, Henry Cavill, has broken down the bout blow-by-blow.
You can check out the in-depth fight analysis below (warning: contains brilliant gore):
One-shot action sequences have been heavily popularised in mainstream TV after a sensational scene in Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil. In the off-chance you’re not film savvy, it just means the camera doesn’t cut away once (or at least, it appears not to, just like in the new war film 1917).
This fight, which saw Geralt take down a number of Renfri’s goons, unfolds in one breathtaking take, with the camera whirling around characters as they clash weapons and lose limbs.
Cavill said: ‘The problem with a one-shot scene is that if any bit slows down, or if anything doesn’t work perfectly, it ruins the whole scene. There’s no time for mistakes; there’s no space for mistakes.’
The actor explained that cut-off swords were required to make the scene possible, used for ‘particularly complex or technical pieces, or pieces which may be very, very dangerous’. While they allow for ‘a lot more moves to be done which involve blood and gore’, they’re also difficult as performers need to fight as if they were using a full-length sword.
You can check out Cavill chatting more about The Witcher’s swords in the video below:
While Cavill actually fought in the scene, a stunt double (Lucy Cork) stepped in for Emma Appleton, who the actor described as the ‘best stunt performer’ he’s worked with. ‘It’s a true dance, it requires a lot of patience, and a lot of skill… there was only so much one can do to actually build up to a fight which was this technical,’ he added.
What’s even more admirable about the fight is its context in the larger story – which was a huge aim for those behind the camera. Cavill said: ‘[Stunt coordinator] Wolfgang Stegemann and I really wanted to make sure that the story was told through the fight. It’s not just a random fight… these are two people in a dance and through that dance a story is told.’
As for the weapon itself, Cavill got the chance to geek out in another video, explaining that ‘it’s made from meteorite, which is stronger and more durable than steel’.
At the end of the shot-by-shot breakdown, the actor even said: ‘I hope I wasn’t too detailed – I tend to get a little excited about these things.’ Be more detailed, be more excited – and hurry up and bring Geralt back to our screens.
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Topics: Film and TV, Fantasy, Henry Cavill, Netflix, The Witcher, TV