The Sound Barrier


Directed By

David Lean


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).

Sir John Ridgefield, an oil tycoon and aircraft constructor, is determined to manufacture a supersonic jet that will travel faster than the speed of sound. His desire to reach this goal has already led to the death of his test pilot son (Denholm Elliot), and his daughter Susan’s (Ann Todd) fighter-pilot husband (Nigel Patrick). Shocked at the death of her husband and her father’s disregard of human life in his single-minded determination to achieve his goal, Susan walks out on him. Unperturbed, Ridgefield approaches another pilot with the challenge of piloting his test craft. The film marked a departure from the domestic or literary concerns which had characterized the director David Lean’s choice of subject matter to date. Its heroics pre-empted his later films Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick, Denholm Elliot, Dinah Sheridan, John Justin, Joseph Tomelty
Other Credits

Written by Terence Rattigan

Release Date
11 April 2016
  • New Interview with Geoffrey Wansell (Terence Rattigan Biographer)
  • BFI interview with DAVID LEAN
  • English SDH
Restoration Details

A new 2k digital transfer from a restoration by the BFI National Archive, funded by the David Lean Foundation and StudioCanal


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