How The Witcher Was Inspired By Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk

While Netflix’s The Witcher was adapted from the book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, who shared his opinions on Henry Cavill’s turn as Geralt of Rivia, the series also looked elsewhere for inspiration. Surprisingly, The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich revealed how much the new series was influenced by Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.

As many have sat down to binge the show, the primary critique that continues coming up is The Witcher’s confusing timeline. The timeline is so massive, but Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explains how the non-chronological storytelling in Dunkirk helped her sort through the specifics of The Witcher’s own timeline. Here’s what the showrunner said:

I was shooting at one point, and so I was in Budapest, and the writers excitedly sent me a picture of a whiteboard, which is the most thorough explanation of the timeline. And what's funny is I really based the timelines on the movie Dunkirk. I had gone to see it a while before working on The Witcher, and I'd read a great interview with Christopher Nolan and he was talking about these three phases of getting soldiers off of this beach.

Christopher Nolan’s film is told in a non-linear fashion, which is why it was hard to follow and the same can be said for The Witcher, which never informs its audience where in the timeline the characters are. However, while The Witcher’s timeline of events is head-scratching, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich continued, explaining to TV Guide that there’s a method to the madness.

He had said, if I told them, like, let's say one phase took a month, one took a week, and one took a day — if I told them and let the month-long one take up the most story, and then the week-long one, and then the day-long one, you would think that the day-long one was the least important because it took the least amount of time on screen when in fact, all three phases were equally important, which is why he told the story that way. And I had one of those moments where I was in the shower and I hopped out and I said to my husband, ‘Is this crazy? Like, is it crazy to do that with this story? Is it crazy to say that Ciri's story takes place over two weeks, Yennefer's takes place over, you know, it's like 70 years. Geralt's takes place over 20 years. Is that crazy?’ And he was like, ‘I don't think so if you do it well!’ It was just such a challenge and it was a really fun way to explore the story.

With the timeline mapped out, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich could very well fulfill her proposal and have The Witcher go for seven, or even 20, seasons. She isn’t at all concerned with some of the bad reviews the show has gotten either, so long as the fans are happy. Good thing Netflix has already renewed the show for Season 2!

The Witcher, which narrowly avoided its own Game of Thrones coffee cup incident, is now streaming on Netflix. For more on what to watch, be sure to check out our midseason schedule to see when your favorite shows are back in the winter and spring of 2020.

Mae Abdulbaki