What do world famous films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Toy Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Spiderman have in common? You might think that these films, having completely different themes from each other, only show some similarities in the technical areas. But there is another element that ties these films together: Wilhelm’s Scream!

If you are not very familiar with the history of cinema, it is only natural that you do not have detailed information about Wilhelm’s Scream. However, if you’ve already seen more than one movie, it’s almost impossible not to hear Wilhelm’s Scream! Because this scream effect, first used in the 1951 film Distant Drums, was used in dozens, if not hundreds, of films in subsequent years. This unusual sound effect has been used in countless productions, from worldwide hit movies to low-cost TV shows. So what exactly is the Wilhelm Scream and how did it become the most popular sound effect in movie history?

Wilhelm’s scream was first used in the 1951 film Distant Drums.

The scream was first heard in a scene where one of the soldiers in the film was attacked by a crocodile while they were walking through a puddle. Of course, no one could have imagined that this characteristic, but far from iconic scream would become the most popular sound effect in the history of cinema. Before we get into how Wilhelm’s Scream became movie legend, let’s take a look at how that scream was recorded…

The scream was recorded later, as were other sound effects in feature films of the period.

The voice actor was asked to scream “as if he had been attacked by a crocodile” while dubbing the corresponding scene in the film. The artist issued 6 different screams in accordance with this directive, and the 5th of the recordings was used as Wilhelm’s Scream …

The scream was also featured in the 1953 film Attack on the Feather River.

After the movie, the wonderful but nameless scream got a new name. Because the man named Wilhelm in the movie was hit in the leg by an arrow, and that famous scream that we all heard today, although we don’t realize it, escaped his lips…

“Scream” was later included in the Warner Bros. sound effects library.

As such, it has been used in many different films. But he was most popular among film students. Most of the students must have found this cry amusing, amusing, or at least interesting. For this reason, “Wilhelm’s Cry” became the most visible element of many student films made especially in the 1960s and 1970s.

Among the film students who found Wilhelm Scream amusing was Ben Burtt, who later became an Academy Award-winning sound engineer.

Ben Burtt

Having successfully completed his education, Burtt received a job offer from a director friend in 1977. Accepting an offer from George Lucas, the sound engineer began work on the Star Wars movie.

Ben Burtt decided to put the Wilhelm Scream, which they used as a joke element in their student films, in Star Wars.

wilhelm's cry

He implemented this solution! The Wilhelm Scream has also been used by Burtt in other films. Some of these films, including series such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones, have gained large followings around the world over the years.

Many directors, including big names like Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino, have been involved in this prank started by Ben Burtt!

wilhelm's cry

So the scream has also been heard in some of the movies that millions of people have watched, such as The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean. First used in 1951, this scream has gone from being a mere sound effect to becoming one of the most iconic elements in cinematic history. So, who was the owner of “Wilhelm Creek”?

Ben Burtt, who turned Wilhelm’s Scream from mere effect into one of the most important sounds in film history, has worked hard to figure out who the scream belonged to.

wilhelm's cry
Sheb Wooley

Finally, he managed to find a document containing the voice actors of the film “Distant Drums”. According to this, the voice behind the scream is most likely that of an actor and musician named Sheb Wooley.

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