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Star Wars: The Last Jedi received both criticism and praise for the way it felt like a very different sort of Star Wars movie. However, one way in which the new film departed from its predecessors may have gone largely unnoticed. The film did not include a single instance of the famous Wilhelm Scream. Mathew Wood, the supervising sound editor on The Last Jedi, recently revealed that Skywalker Sound has decided to "move on." According to Wood...
In this movie, we decided to move from the Wilhelm scream. We're letting the past die, as Kylo Ren says.
The Wilhelm Scream is a famous audio effect that's been used in film since as far back as 1951. The voice doing the screaming is credited to singer and actor Sheb Wooley. Named for the character of Private Wilhelm who utters in the scream in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River. The sound effect stopped being used after the 1950s until sound designer Ben Burtt included it in 1977's Star Wars. From there, the scream would go on to be used in all of the Indiana Jones movies as well as several others, from Reservoir Dogs to Aladdin. The video below chronicles the screams use in the Star Wars films.
However, you'll notice that the video doesn't include anything from the two most recent Star Wars films. That's because, as Matthew Wood revealed to ABC News, the new scream effect that has been developed was first used in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story before being included in The Last Jedi. It's also been used elsewhere, but Wood isn't saying where...
We've started another scream that we like. It's actually been in this film and Rogue One, and some other films that are not Star Wars-related. But it's our own little calling card.
From what Matthew Wood says, it sounds like there's something of a story behind the development of this new scream, but Skywalker Sound wants to wait a bit longer before revealing the details. The scream apparently has its own name, but Wood isn't saying what it is. We'll just have to keep our ears open during other movies with audio done by Skywalker Sound to see if we can locate the scream. With the Blu-Ray and digital release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi coming next month, we'll have ample opportunity to go looking for the new sound effect.
40 years of near continuous usage, and over 60 years of life in total, is a pretty impressive lifespan for a single scream. Still, there comes a time when everything must end, and it looks like the Wilhelm Scream may be coming to the end of its road. It likely won't be gone forever, as other sound studios will certainly continue to use it now and again, but we'll likely never hear a dying Stormtrooper sound like that ever again.