Easter eggs in movies are nothing new. Filmmakers like to put references to other films in their new movies all the time. Sometimes these references are direct, and other times they’re much more subtle. It turns out that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark in it. Although, you probably didn’t notice underneath the sound of the screaming rathtar.
David Acord, sound designer on The Force Awakens, told Nerdist that during the scene where Han Solo and Chewbacca are running down the hall to escape from the rolling rathtar, he added a sound effect from another Harrison Ford movie that harkened back to that moment.
Then there’s some other cool things like when the rathtar is rolling down the hallway after Han and Chewie, I put in the sound of Ben Burtt’s boulder roll sound from Raiders of the Lost Ark when the boulder is chasing Indy.
Since all the sound mixing was done at Skywalker Sound, Acord and supervising sound editor Matthew Wood had access to the entire sound library for every movie that had been mixed there. This gave the pair the ability to not only pull the previously used Star Wars sounds, but also sounds from other films as well. Apparently Harrison Ford just can’t escape that boulder.
While Han running from the rathtar will probably not become as iconic a moment as Indiana Jones escaping the temple at the beginning of the first movie, it’s cool to know that moment is in there. If there’s anything this week has taught us, it’s that sound designers have a lot of great ideas that we rarely actually notice. This detail comes on the heels of news that the sound editor for Mad Max: Fury Road added various whale sounds to the War Rig in that movie, because he saw the movie's story as being very similar to Moby Dick. It certainly seems that this kind of creativity is what other sound designers are looking for. Both films have been nominated for this year’s Academy Award for sound editing.
Sound editors rarely get a great deal of credit for the work that they do. When the sound works well and everything is in its perfect place, a viewer is likely to not notice a thing. However, with all the different sounds that they are responsible for, especially in a movie like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where many of the science fiction sounds need to be not just produced, but invented, it can be quite a bit of hard work.
So now you have something new to listen for when you go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the sixth time.