54 Hours - Story (Making of)

54 Hours - Story (Making of)

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.

Film Credits

Bruce Alcock
Paton Francis
Michael Crummey
Annette Clarke
Michael Fukushima
Bryan Hennessey
Teri Snelgrove
director of photography
A A Scott McClellan
Kevin Langdale
sound design
Judith Gruber-Stitzer
production designer
Bruce Alcock
art direction
Marty Sexton
sound recordist
Mark Neary
music recordist
Stephen Lilly
foley artist
Lise Wedlock
Jean Paul Vialard
executive producer
Annette Clarke
Michael Fukushima

Find Similar Films


  • 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

Discuss this film Please sign in to add your comment
Not a member ? Click here