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God Bless You Wikipedia: The Wilhelm Scream

June 10, 2009

After browsing the trivia section for The Fifth Element on IMDB (reason why coming up in later post), I found a few references to something called the ‘Wilhelm Scream.’  My subsesquent Wikipedia search has made my night:

The Wilhelm scream’s revival came from motion picture sound designer Ben Burtt, who re-discovered the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled “Man being eaten by alligator”) and incorporated it into a scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, when Luke Skywalker shoots a Stormtrooper who screams as he falls. Burtt named the scream after Private Wilhelm, a minor character who emitted the same scream in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River.  Burtt began incorporating the effect in other films he worked on, including most projects involving George Lucas and/or Steven Spielberg. Other sound designers picked up on the effect, and inclusion of the sound in films became a tradition among the community of sound designers.

from ‘Wilhelm Scream’ on Wikipedia

I didn’t realize how prevalent this stock sound effect was until I checked out this YouTube compilation.   Is there any doubt that Tarantino included it in the Crazy 88’s scene as an homage, and not for any particular aesthetic purpose?

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