Posted in History & Literature

Wilhelm Scream

Often while watching a movie, you hear a scream that you feel like you have heard it before. This phenomenon occurs quite commonly, and the reason for it is rather simple. It is not because of some psychological phenomena, but because it is always the same scream. But how is it that the same scream appears in movies spanning over 50 years, with no common actors? 

This is the famous Wilhelm Scream, a pre-recorded sound clip frequently used in movie sound editing. It first appeared in the 1951 film “Distant Drums” (when a villain is snatched away by an alligator), and became famous when it was used again in 1953 in “The Charge at Feather River”, when a soldier named Wilhelm gives off the scream when shot (hence the name).

From then on, this scream has become somewhat a cliché in the film world, with numerous directors humorously sneaking it in their movie. George Lucas is especially well-known for his love with the sound clip, as he used it in every Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie. Including appearances in movies, games and other media, the Wilhelm Scream has been used over 200 times to date. This peculiar scream tends to be used when a nameless villain, such as a stormtrooper or a Nazi soldier, is shot, fell or somehow mortally harmed.

Next time you watch a film, look out for the Wilhelm Scream.

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