Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Wilhelm Scream

"The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect first used in 1951 for the movie 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 labelled "Man being eaten by alligator"). The recording was actually from a film from 1951 titled Distant Drums.


Its use in the Star Wars films was the beginning of something of an in-joke amongst some sound designers of the film industry, especially at Skywalker Sound, and Weddington Productions (now a division of Technicolor Sound Services). They continued to try to incorporate it into movies wherever feasible; action movies are naturals, but film sound cognoscenti are particularly impressed when it is used naturally in films such as A Star Is Born (with Judy Garland), The Wild Bunch and A Goofy Movie.

In a tribute to its origins, the clip was used in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the villain Mola Ram was eaten by crocodiles. It was also used in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is driving the truck full of Nazis, and in Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven when the Muslims first attack the fortress of Kerak. It was also used in the lesser known comedy Van Wilder, and in several scenes of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

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