Wilhelm scream

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The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect first recorded in 1951 for the movie Distant Drums. It has been featured in over 150 movies since. Alongside a certain recording of the cry of the Red-tailed Hawk, the "Universal Telephone Ring" and "Castle Thunder," it is probably the most well-known cinematic sound cliché. It is believed to have been provided by actor/singer Sheb Wooley.

The Wilhelm's revival came from Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt, who tracked down the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled "Man being eaten by alligator"). He named it after Wilhelm, a minor character who emitted the scream in the 1953 movie The Charge at Feather River. Its use in Star Wars was the beginning of something of an in-joke amongst some sound designers of the film industry, especially at Skywalker Sound.

Some people, once aware of it, recognize it immediately. Some of them feel that it distracts from the film and interrupts the flow of the film. Other sound effects, such as the Tarzan yell, heard in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, are also considered distracting from the narrative. (The Tarzan yell is also heard in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, during the establishing shot on Kashyyyk. The pitch of it seems to have been altered slightly.)

Jason Fry also hinted that the Wilhelm Scream was briefly uttered in-universe with the holodrama The Charge at Feather Nebula in his endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare[1]

Uses in Star WarsEdit

Wilhelm comic

WikiWorld comic depicting the history of the Wilhelm Scream.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

External linksEdit

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