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The Sound Barrier

6.81 h 56 min1952U
Directed by David Lean and written by Terence Rattigan, The Sound Barrier is about the men who challenged the speed of sound, told from the viewpoint of central character, Sir John Ridgefield (Ralph Richardson). The oil tycoon and aircraft constructor is determined to manufacture a supersonic jet that will travel faster than the speed of sound.
David Lean
Ralph RichardsonAnn ToddNigel Patrick
None Available
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Supporting actors
John Justin
David Lean
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

185 global ratings

  1. 70% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

BengregonaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 January 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Supersonic Flight
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A top-flight film produced in 1952 by David Lean, still in the golden age of film-making. Now 91 years old, I well recall the dive tests by Spitfires in 1944 (one of them being the Spitfire PR Mark XI as I learned later) and, of course the telltale
bang as one of them certainly DID reach Mach 1, as I am able to testify.
2 people found this helpful
Raymond StandingReviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 April 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Disappointing film presentation. The Sound Barrier.
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Having already owned The Sound Barrier on DVD, I was hoping this digitally remastered blue-ray would be a great improvement. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, as this version exhibits an annoying amount of visible grain. I can only say that during the remastering process the contrast was over-emphasised, causing this problem. This is a historic great film and deserved a little more care in presentation.
Ken O'NeillReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 November 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Well acted but not brilliant
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OK, I've got no issues with the performances, but there are some pretty glaring problems with the aerodynamics the history, and the ethics of some of the characters.

For instance, no Spitfire was actually capable of Mach 1.0, even in a dive. Control reversal is not a thing. Chuck Yeager had already made M1.02 by the time this film is set. Given that the technical advisers read like a Who's Who of British 1950s test pilots, these points should all have been picked up.

And that's before we consider how happy the John Ridgefield character is to send people, including his son in law, to likely doom.
One person found this helpful
Paul J DuncanReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 August 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fifties stiff upper lip
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Fun had as no narrative cliche' for the genre left unused and unloved (but since they hadn't really been invented at this point they were not cliche's). Some great aircraft - all but forgotten now - featured and my main reason for watching.
One person found this helpful
Gil MassaraReviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 November 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Sound Barrier. Excellent film.
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The Sound Barrier. Remastered version of the 1952 film.
This is one of the best aviation films of the ere. Whilst it is a drama there is plenty of science within the film to keep it credible. Excellent flying sequences not a bit of CGI in those days) and cinematography. Highly recommended.
One person found this helpful
Pete MacReviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 November 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A very British film.
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It was a thing of its time, but still thoroughly entertaining, seeing those old aircraft was really interesting. Not a strictly accurate portrayal of the breaking of the sound barrier, but all done with a British stiff upper lip. I can thoroughly recommend this as a bit of nostalgic escapism.
KMHReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 January 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another fantastic film by Britains greatest film director David Lean
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What a fantastic british film, simlple story line, fine acting, emotional another great film by David Lean britains greatest film director. I wish we could make these sorts of films today in Britain but we dont have the directors of Leans standing and everything is hollywood special effects rubbish.
3 people found this helpful
SPADReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 February 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A very good bit of British film making
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I confess I bought this less for the plot than for the excellent coverage of British jets in the 1950's. The plot was good, and well-paced with good performances, but this is a aviation buff's feast. Recommended.
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