The Last Jedi takes aim at some of the most deeply-held establishments and tenets of the Star Wars saga, laying the ground for a new generation to build something different in their place. That’s all heady stuff, but it also broke another Star Wars tradition that was a bit easier to miss: It’s the first film in the main saga not to use the infamous “Wilhelm scream.”
Since 1977, every film in the main Star Wars franchise (aside from the spinoff Rogue One), has weaved in the aural Easter egg that is the Wilhelm scream, the wailing shriek of a soundbite named after the moment Private Wilhelm catches an arrow to the leg in the 1953 Western The Charge at Feather River. Whether it’s accompanying careening Stormtroopers or Naboo palace guards taking a hit, the scream has cropped up in every chapter of the Skywalker saga... that is, until The Last Jedi came along.
As part of ABC’s extensive deep-dive into the sound work behind the film, Last Jedi’s supervising sound editor Matthew Wood revealed that for the first time, the sound team decided to not use the iconic scream in the movie. In fact, it’s a tradition that seems to be over for good:
In this movie, we decided to move from the Wilhelm scream. We’re letting the past die, as Kylo Ren says.
We’ve started another scream that we like. It’s actually been in this film and Rogue One, and some other films that are not Star Wars-related. But it’s our own little calling card.
Wood didn’t reveal what the new scream was, but is instead waiting for fans to figure it out themselves. I’m sure it will be equally delightful, but for now Wilhelm’s death cry seems a little more mournful.