It’s all George Lucas’ fault, indirectly.

16 Jul

The Wilhelm scream:

From Wikipedia:

The Wilhelm scream is a near famous stock sound effect first used in 1951 for the film Distant Drums. The Wilhelm’s revival came from Star Wars series sound designer Ben Burtt, who tracked down the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled “Man being eaten by alligator“). Although Distant Drums was the first known use of the sound, Burtt named it after “Pvt. Wilhelm”, a minor character who emitted the same scream in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River.

Although the identity of the individual who recorded the scream (which was actually one of a series of six) remains unknown, researcher and Star Wars sound effects editor Ben Burtt uncovered documentation suggesting the scream might have been recorded by singer Sheb Wooley, who was one of the actors in Distant Drums.

I can’t believe I’ve never processed how ubiquitous this scream is, nor did I know that it has a name and a league of followers (thanks again for all that nothin’, film school). I love how some films use it multiple times – more proof, I suppose, that the general viewer isn’t really paying much attention. And that filmmakers are lazy. And that they’re all laughing at you.


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