In every star wars movie, there is this distinct yell. It is generally used once.

What is the origin of this scream? Was it popularised by George Lucas?

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    that video you linked clearly answers your own question. Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 3:29
  • 2
    George Lucas was 9 years old at the date of the first clip in your video. So, uh... what was your question again?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


There's no point in not answering this- as your youtube link indicated, it's the Wilhelm Scream, and originated a fair bit earlier than Lucas' work:

The Wilhelm scream originates from a series of sound effects recorded for the 1951 movie Distant Drums. In a scene from the film, soldiers are wading through a swamp in the Everglades, and one of them is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator. The scream for that scene was recorded later in a single take, along with five other short pained screams, which were slated as "man getting bit by an alligator, and he screamed." The fifth scream was used for the soldier in the alligator scene—but the 4th, 5th, and 6th screams recorded in the session were also used earlier in the film—when three Indians are shot during a raid on a fort. Although takes 4, 5, and 6 are the most recognizable, all of the screams are referred to as "Wilhelm", by those in the sound community.

Now, as far as Lucas' use:

The Wilhelm scream's revival came from motion picture sound designer Ben Burtt, who discovered the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled "Man being eaten by alligator") and incorporated it into a scene in Star Wars. Burtt is credited with naming the scream after Private Wilhelm (see The Charge at Feather River).[4] Over the next decade, Burtt began incorporating the effect in other films he worked on, including most projects involving George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. (It is used in all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies.)

This specific effect was even used in The Hobbit. From same Wikipedia article:

The Wilhelm scream has become a cinematic sound cliche, and by 2011 had been used in many instances, including over 225 movies, television shows and video games (and video game advertisements).[6][7] Some directors, most notably George Lucas (Star Wars original trilogy and prequel trilogy movies), Quentin Tarantino, and Peter Jackson[7] (in two of the Lord of the Rings movies and also The Hobbit) include it in almost every one of their productions.

  • The number of movies this scream has been used are countless...these days my ears are tuned in a way that it actually disrupts my flow by popping up like an ad-banner in my head: WILHELM-SCREAM! Indeed last time in "The Hobbit"...sigh.
    – flq
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 20:56
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    @Flimzy - +1 for "there's no point answering", then providing an extensive answer...
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 17:36
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    @Richard: It says "there's no point not answering", not "there's no point answering."
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 17:37
  • As bad as the question is, having information on the Wilhelm Scream on this SE is warranted and valuable, and this is a great answer which includes that. This answer also addresses the asker's misapprehension about the relationship between Star Wars and the Wilhelm Scream, which I did not know about until just now. In fact, if the question were edited to be something like "What's the relationship between its use in Star Wars to the revival of the use of the Wilhelm Scream?" it would be a great question and answer, although maybe better migrated to Sound Design.SE. Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 14:47
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    @flq That must be really unfortunate if your enjoyment of movies relies on a sense of immersion (which I suspect is true for the majority of movie-watchers). Personally, I am very nearly incapable of real immersion, so my enjoyment of movies is generally somewhat removed and analytical--so such "mental banners" actually contribute to rather than detract from my enjoyment. (Not that I recommend my approach, as it were; it's just sort of how I'm wired.) Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 20:35

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