I was wondering if there was a reason the director (or people who choose sound effects) littered the LOTR and Hobbit films with so many "Wilhelm Screams"?

It really ruined the movies for me, to a point that every time I hear one I feel like turning it off!

Was there any information as to why the sound director used it so much?

This is not a rant question, but more so why it was used so much. I was really interested to know the reason for its use.

For reference, here is a compilation and it is not small:

  • 5
    6 times in over 24 hours worth of films is hardly over-user – Valorum Mar 19 '17 at 10:00
  • 3
    @Valorum, well, used one time is overuse. Glad you like the Wilhelm Scream, I don't. – KyloRen Mar 19 '17 at 10:05
  • I've taken the liberty of doing an edit. It's a good question but I suspect it would have gotten downvotes for being a bit "ranty" – Valorum Mar 19 '17 at 10:13
  • A few of those seemed very fake – Edlothiad Mar 19 '17 at 10:13

According to Steve Lee (sound designer, film historian and Wilhelm Scream expert) Peter Jackson's love affair with the Wilhelm Scream came about during the sound-editing of LOTR: The Two Towers when his sound team explained the long and storied history of this particular sound effect.

Like many directors before him, he apparently vowed to include it in all of his future films, where circumstances allow.

When Peter Jackson was told the history of the Wilhelm during the sound mix of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (2002), he was so excited it was included that he had its volume raised - and insisted that it also be used in "Return of the King" (2003).

Hollywood Lost and Found: The WILHELM Scream

  • 1
    @KyloRen - When I hear it in films, I always raise a mental glass to the Director. When done well it's a connection to a century of Hollywood history and a sign that the makers genuinely care about making a quality product. – Valorum Mar 19 '17 at 10:14
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    At the expense of ruining the movie. Shame really – KyloRen Mar 19 '17 at 10:16
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    @KyloRen - If you feel that a background sound-effect that lasts less than two seconds can ruin a 240 minute film, then I can't really help you. – Valorum Mar 19 '17 at 10:17
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    @KyloRen - It may interest you to learn that it's one of a range of stock sounds that are recycled around Hollywood. "Dirty Harry's gun" has been used in nearly 300 films and the "Bwooo" sound features in more than 50 trailers; youtube.com/watch?time_continue=38&v=yP3uXtFozv0 – Valorum Mar 19 '17 at 10:27
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    @KyloRen You say this question is not a rant, but your many comments would indicate otherwise. – DJClayworth Mar 26 '17 at 16:00

I find it has a dual purpose of a nod to Hollywood history, and to elicit a smile and a chuckle (to those in the know) without breaking narrative during otherwise sombre and tense moments. Anyone complaining about it is really just bragging about recognizing it.

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