Negotiating cultural authenticity with global appeal in the context of transmedia practices and cross-cultural adaptations: The case of Netflix’s The Witcher.
MetadataShow full item record
Translating literary texts into films requires a combination of fidelity, reinterpretation, and re-contextualization of a source material for the demands of a new audience. The case of Netflix’s The Witcher (a TV series that adapts and expands on the famous Polish fantasy novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski) is further complicated by the culturally-bound nature of both books and games and the expectations related to their worldwide popularity. Although academics agree that they draw mainly from Polish and Slavic mythology, culture, and society, even though combined with Western-European inspirations, the Netflix show remains under-researched. To contribute to closing the research gap, this thesis analyzes the negotiation between the source’s cultural authenticity, the streaming platform’s multicultural values and demands, and the expectations of the preexisting fan base. In order to shed light upon how and if unique cultural traits are retained and re-contextualized by the creators, perceived by the audience, and how such texts participate in social change, the thesis studies the pilot episode in relation to the official behind-the-scenes special and various online sources. By assigning a Polish producer, changing the focalization of the story, and having the showrunner actively engage with the fandom online, the production of The Witcher reveals creative decisions aimed at a good balance between “local” and “global.” However, the fan-base response to racial diversity and colorblindness shows that the efforts were not successful in showcasing the complexity of today’s society.