Toerisme Vlaanderen - Landscapes

Toerisme Vlaanderen wanted to commemorate World War I by portraying the landscape as the last witness.


Toerisme Vlaanderen


Tourism & Hospitality



The challenge

"Creating content to commemorate your ancestors is a balancing act, especially when the subject matter is Flanders Fields."

Ordinarily, you would pay your respects by showing and sharing the stories of WWI vets. But what if there is no one left to tell the tale?

Tourism Flanders had the answer already. There was another witness still very much alive, the landscape where it all happened. Flanders Fields has healed over time, but its scars remain impressive as ever. That’s why this year’s theme for WWI is titled “Landscapes”. The century old trenches, impact craters and rolling hills all have a story to tell. It was our job to make sure that people would come and witness them.

The solution

While we visited Flanders Fields during the concept phase, we came up with the idea of working around Carola Oman's poem "In the Ypres Sector”, primarily because this was written by someone who lived through WWI. That way, the connection to the events would be stronger.

Oman worked as a nurse during World War I and describes the contradictory beauty in the wartime landscape. The text is performed by various English-speaking nationalities that share their personal connection with the scenery. We see them reading the poem while standing on the last remaining witness of WWI. Using native speakers from Canada, Britain, Australia and America, among others, it reflects beautifully - and not coincidentally to an important group of future visitors.

In the end, Tourism Flanders was convinced that the more direct link to the landscape as a witness, is the way to discover more of Flanders Fields.

In the Ypres Sector

You have left beauty here in everything,
And it is we that are both deaf and blind.
By coarse grass mounds here the small crosses rise
Sunk sideways in the ditch, or low inclined
Over some little stream where waters sing
By shell holes blue with beauty from the skies.

Even the railway cutting has kind shade
And colour, where the rusty wire is laid
Round the soft tracks.
Because you knew them thus
The dark mouthed dug-outs hold a light for us.
And here each name rings rich upon our ears
Which first we learnt with sorrow and with tears.

Script & Characters

We knew the first scene had to grip the audience. The link with WWI needed to be made instantly. The grave of an unknown soldier is a staple in the Flanders Fields region and thus the obvious choice.

The story then moves to a location where the remnants of war are still apparent, serving as a testament to the battles that took place. Visualizing a figure walking through a field filled with poppies is an element we definitely wanted to add to the script as well, mostly to emphasize the contrast between now and then.

Finally, we tried to keep the story authentic by showing someone holding an old photograph of soldiers in trenches, painting a picture of how it used to be and how it appears now."

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We aimed to appeal a diverse audience. A child and his father/mother taking care of changing the flowers on the grave, teenagers visiting the landscape, etc.. we aimed to honor all those WWI soldiers of diverse backgrounds and convey the meaning of battlefields as symbols of peace and unity.

By showcasing individuals of various ethnicities sharing photos of their grandfathers who served in the war and paying tribute to their fallen brothers, we aim to convey the ongoing significance of the battlefields as symbols of peace and diplomacy for all.

Sound design

In this production we soon found out that sound would be a crucial element to this video. Initially, we planned to use sounds of the Great War, such as shouting of soldiers, shots firing, but soon realized that the very silence and sound of (in the are of Ypres) can make much more impact when carefully done.

The power of natural silence, and using high-quality elements like wind noise, footsteps and birds elevated our sound design. Combined with a corresponding soundtrack and poetic voice-over we believed this will offer the audience an impactful and inspiring experience.

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The result

Since the video will not be distributed until spring 2023, we’re unable to provide results at this time.

Anyway, we hope that the end result will leave an impression to all who watch. We showed that storytelling is so much more than telling a story. It is the combination of sound, image and emotion that makes the whole more than the sum of its parts.

And now hup, on to Ypres!

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