Shadow and Bone True Story

Shadow and bone, the new fantasy adventure series premiering on Netflix on April 23, is not a true story. Anyone who anticipates the debut (and there is an army of fans who are) will tell you that the series is based on a series of novels by bestselling writer Leigh Bardugo.

Those books– a collection of five novels known as the series “Grishaverse” – tells the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan from the fictional kingdom of Ravka who discovers that she has a supernatural ability that could change the course of her world. It’s a cape and dagger universe populated by unforgettable characters – spies, thieves, mystics and kings – and while it all comes from Bardugo’s imagination, there are moments that seem stranger than fiction for good. raison.

Here, CGV talks with Bardugo and producer Eric Heisserer about how the series references world history and Lady Gaga without losing what makes it unique.

Russian connection

Shadow and Bone, the new Netflix series based on novels by Leigh Bardugo and inspired in part by 19th-century Russia, is now airing.

DAVID APPLEBY / NETFLIX

Shadow and Bone Kingdom of Ravka was built entirely in Bardugo’s imagination, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t inspired by moments in a non-fictional world. “I can point to very specific research that really changed the course of the books,” Bardugo said. “Obviously, Ravka is heavily inspired by Tsarist Russia in the mid-1800s. And part of that was just in sync with the themes that were already in my head for this story – the failure of industrialization, the great gap between rich and poor, this army of young conscripts. “

When she wrote the first draft of the story, two orphaned characters in the final version, Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev, had parents. “I didn’t want to play in the orphan trope of fantasy,” Bardugo explains. “And then as I was doing research I learned that when Napoleon attacked, before that Russia was all about France, the aristocrats were just heavily invested in being as French as possible, then Napoleon was attacked and all of a sudden it fell out of fashion. Many nobles simply went into hiding in their country homes, but many chose to serve, and they served on the front side by side with their serfs. It was kind of a revelatory moment for many of them, spending those long nights under siege with people they hadn’t even considered people before. So, upon their return from this, many of these officers released their serfs. I found it so poignant that I went back and really rethought the origin story of Mal and Alina.

Embrace the fantasy

shadow and bone kit l to r young as jesper fahey, amita suman as inej ghafa and freddy carter as kaz brekker in shadow and bone cr courtesy of netflix © 2021
Kit Young, Amita Suman and Freddy Carter in the new fantasy series Shadow and Bone.

COURTESY OF NETFLIX

According to producer Eric Heisserer, the story is a great setting for a story like Shadow and bone, but it’s also important to remember that in a make-believe world, you can choose what is real.

“[1800s Russia] was absolutely the plan with which me and my team started to build this world, ”he says. “You need something like this when you embark on a project as ambitious as a second world fantasy show, because everything is made from scratch, everything is tailor-made.”

Having these touchstones for reference, however, means making decisions about what real-world history exists in the world. Shadow and bone the universe and what is not.

“You have conversations that, jumping in there, I didn’t expect,” Heisserer says. “For example, my costume designer came to me and said, ‘Alright, I know we’re in this era and we’re inspired by this era. However, I would really like to dress someone in a material that wasn’t invented until a little after the 1860s. What sort of leeway do I have? ‘ We had to make calls like that regularly. But it was always in the service of how we could better represent the show and fill the world. It should look like a place where you are somehow transported. “

It was not always easy. “We had a lot of issues with the set design and props,” he says, “realizing that it was so easy to bring in something familiar, until we realized it stood out like a thumb. sore. It was like, ‘Oh, this is an Earth relic. What’s it doing here?’

The story goes

Shadow and bone l to r jessie mei li as alina starkov in shadow and bone cr david applebynetflix © 2021
Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkhov in Shadow and Bone, streaming now on Netflix.

DAVID APPLEBY / NETFLIX

Just because Bardugo found inspiration in the 1800s doesn’t mean modern times haven’t had an impact. “You never really know what will inspire you,” she says. “I was once in a hotel in Italy, I was there for a meeting with my Italian editor. I was in my room and all of a sudden I heard screaming downstairs. And I looked down and there was this crowd of teenagers, and I realized Lady Gaga was at the hotel. And she would go out of the hotel and get in her car, and them kids would run out into the street, into the traffic, to get over to her. At the time, I was working on those scenes where people would literally hold onto Alina and rip her clothes off and try to be close to that kind of moment of salvation. And that invariably influenced the way I wrote those scenes.

Make magic television

shadow and bone l to r ben barnes as general darkling kirigan and jessie mei li as alina starkov in shadow and bone cr courtesy of netflix © 2021
Ben Barnes as General Kirigan and Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov in Shadow and Bone.

COURTESY OF NETFLIX

While there is a certain type of fantasy series that seems to be set in a past that has all the qualities of the future, Shadow and bone made sure her world was unique but never incongruous.

“You have to be careful to introduce elements that seem futuristic into something that is otherwise rooted in history,” Heisserer said. “Because one of the pleasures of the books and then the show, I hope, is a question Leigh asked, which is, ‘What if you bring magic to a shootout?’ You want it to be the extra spin; the taste of magic is really what you need. You don’t need lasers on it.

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