Star Wars Has Abandoned the Iconic Wilhelm Scream

Star Wars: The Last Jedi supervising sound editor Matthew Wood says a longtime Star Wars audio tradition, the Wilhelm scream, will no longer be used in the Star Wars films. In fact, neither The Last Jedi nor Rogue One: A Star Wars Story featured the iconic sound byte.

“We’re letting the past die, as Kylo Ren says," Wood explained to ABC News. “We’ve started another scream that we like. It’s actually been in this film [The Last Jedi] and Rogue One, and some other films that are not Star Wars-related. But it’s our own little calling card.” However, he would not reveal the scenes in which the new scream can be heard.

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If you aren't familiar with the Wilhelm scream by name, you will probably recognize the sound effect when you hear it. In fact, once you hear it, you can't stop hearing it in the over 400 films in which it has been featured. The scream was featured in every Star Wars film up -- up until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, anyway.

Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt named the sound effect after Private Wilhelm from the 1953 Western The Charge at Feather River. The scream is first heard when Private Wilhelm is struck by an arrow. The cry is used several more times in the film whenever a character is injured or sent flying during an action sequence. However, actor Ralph Brooks -- who played Wilhelm -- was in fact not the original actor to make the noise. His movie was just the first to use the sound effect prominently. The 1951 film Distant Drums boasts the origins of the scream in a scene where a cowboy is attacked by an alligator.

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Burtt first used the audio clip in Star Wars: A New Hope in the scene where Luke Skywalker is pursued by stormtroopers after he rescues Princess Leia. He shoots a stormtrooper who "screams" as he falls off the ledge. From there, Burtt went on to find places to insert the Wilhelm scream in every Star Wars film thereafter, as well as the Indiana Jones films.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives on Digital HD March 13 and on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and On-Demand March 27.

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