As Alec Guinness’s Obi-Wan Kenobi once remarked: “There’s been a great disturbance in the force. As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.”
Well, one iconic voice has certainly been silenced.
Ever since the first Star Wars movie, there’s been a reliable staple – the Wilhelm scream.
It was first introduced by the legendary Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt in the first movie, A New Hope, as a Stormtrooper is shot from a ledge by Luke Skywalker on the Death Star.
Burtt unearthed the noise from the 1951 movie Distant Drums, in which a soldier is dragged underwater by an alligator.
It was also re-used liberally in the western movie The Charge At Feather River in 1953, uttered by character called Private Wilhelm. Hence the name.
It’s instantly recognisable, having then appeared in all the consequent Star Wars movies, as well as the Indiana Jones films, Toy Story, and hundred of others – perhaps as many as 370 films in all, including The Force Awakens, when Finn and Poe take on Stormtroopers in a stolen TIE Fighter.
But sadly, no longer will it feature in Star Wars.
Current Star Wars sound designer Matthew Wood has confirmed that it’s been officially retired, after excluding it from both Rogue One and The Last Jedi.
“In this movie, we decided to move from the Wilhelm scream,” Wood told ABC News.
“We’re letting the past die, as Kylo Ren says. We’ve started another scream that we like. It’s actually been in [The Last Jedi] and Rogue One, and some other films that are not Star Wars-related. But it’s our own little calling card.
“I’ll let it gestate in a few more films before we start talking about what it is.”
Farewell, then, Private Wilhelm. It has been an honour.