54 Hours

54 Hours

This short animation is a remarkably vivid account of the 1914 tragedy in which 132 men were stranded on the ice during a severe snowstorm off the coast of Newfoundland. 78 men froze to death on the pack ice. In the spring of 1914, the last of the wooden seal hunting ships in a steel-dominated industry was the Newfoundland, manned by men from across the province. The ship was unable to reach a seal pack due to its lack of ice-breaking power, and 132 men were ordered off the boat and onto the ice to hunt. The ship had no radio equipment, and the men spent two unbearable nights on the ice. Survivor testimony, striking archival materials, weather visualizations, inventive animation and puppetry are seamlessly blended to recreate this harrowing ordeal.

Pedagogical evaluations and study guides are only available to CAMPUS subscribers.


Features designed specifically for teachers. Learn more

Already subscribed? Sign in

Embed this code on your site

54 Hours, Bruce Alcock & Paton Francis, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Video player width

by Reset
  • director
    Bruce Alcock
    Paton Francis
  • writer
    Michael Crummey
  • producer
    Annette Clarke
    Michael Fukushima
  • cast
    Bryan Hennessey
    Teri Snelgrove
  • director of photography
    A A Scott McClellan
  • animator
    Kevin Langdale
  • additional animation
    Ryan Kane
    Bruce Alcock
    Paton Francis
    Nathan Boey
  • sound design
    Judith Gruber-Stitzer
  • musician
    Duane Andrews
    Patrick Boyle
    Bill Brennan
    Aaron Collis
  • storyboard artist
    Paton Francis
  • production designer
    Bruce Alcock
  • production manager
    Lynn Andrews
  • art direction
    Marty Sexton
  • key grip
    Sean Doran
  • script supervisor
    Jordan Canning
  • sound recordist
    Mark Neary
  • stills photography
    A A Scott McClellan
    Victoria Wells
  • production assistant
    Luke Crawford
    Tamara Segura
  • assistant editor
    Amanda Bell
    Chris MacIntosh
    Matt Sikka
  • music recordist
    Stephen Lilly
  • foley artist
    Lise Wedlock
  • additional musician
    Lance Neveu
    Dave Gossage
  • additional sound recording
    Chris MacIntosh
  • additional editing
    Chris MacIntosh
  • re-recording
    Jean Paul Vialard
  • production supervisor
    Roz Power
  • technical coordinator
    Jean-François Laprise
  • production coordinator
    Vanessa Larsen
    Jenna Ross
  • senior production coordinator
    Isabelle Limoges
  • studio administrator
    Leslie Anne Poyntz
  • marketing manager
    Kelley Alexander
  • publicist
    Pat Dillon
  • legal counsel
    Dominique Aubry
  • associate producer
    Jon Montes
  • executive producer
    Annette Clarke
    Michael Fukushima

  • BrianDunne

    I have read and loved both "Galore" and "Sweetland" by Michael Crummey. His tenderness for the fates of hapless characters in those novels is evoked by his handling of this tragedy (only two years after the Titanic).

    BrianDunne, 17 Nov 2016
  • trend_17

    As a Newfoundlander, this film gives me greater insight into the life of my people. My great grandfather worked on the Florezel ship, which was mentioned in the film. I don't know much about him, but this film certainly made me feel a little closer to my ancestors. Thank you.

    trend_17, 7 Apr 2014
  • lldgosse

    I read Cassie Brown's book; it made my heart ache and so much more for the men. Thank you to Bruce and Paton for this fine visual retelling of the story. Michael, your words are pure poetry. Thank you.

    lldgosse, 6 Apr 2014
  • Lionel_Dubois

    Such a moving film that engages from start to finish. The animation and imagery are truly stunning. The beautiful weather visualisations and sound really conveyed the intense cold these brave men had to withstand. Great to see the NFB produce such a unique project!

    Lionel_Dubois, 3 Apr 2014
  • MerReddy

    We all had to read the book "Death on the Ice" in grade school ... even at that age, it broke your heart and gave appreciation. I also support the seal hunt. The hunt is Not for sport and WE use Everything <3

    MerReddy, 1 Apr 2014
  • Bigred

    I watched the coverage of the 100th anniversary of this tragic story on The National tonight, and they mentioned this NFB film, so I watched it too. I didn't know the story, living in Saskatchewan, so it was very moving indeed. I also understand why sealing is such a passionate and deeply held tradition in Newfoundland. Thanks so much for being part of the re-telling of this important story for Canada. The National Film Board of Canada is truly a national treasure. I pray the souls of those men are resting in peace.

    Bigred, 1 Apr 2014
  • Ferne

    Wonderful and terrible.

    Ferne, 31 Mar 2014
  • Sidneystonethrow

    Regardless of one's opinion on the seal hunt, this story gives those of us who live away, a great insight into what it was like to etch out a living on the rock which results in the strength of character found in her people amid so many tragedies that befall them. A stunning story and film. Thank you for bringing it to the rest of us Canadians.

    Sidneystonethrow, 31 Mar 2014
  • sampaterson

    We just watched this in our Grade 5 Class in Newfoundland. It expressed a lot of emotion with beautiful imagery.

    sampaterson, 31 Mar 2014
  • fpasquill

    NFB has gone out on the ice on this one. Fantastic, deeply sad, engaging. Great work!

    fpasquill, 31 Mar 2014
  • vjrice

    Incredibly moving. Should be seen by all Canadians.

    vjrice, 31 Mar 2014

The NFB is committed to respecting your privacy

We use cookies to ensure that our site works efficiently, as well as for advertising purposes.

If you do not wish to have your information used in this way, you can modify your browser settings before continuing your visit.

Learn more