Sound designer Ben Burtt to discuss restored 'Wings' at Film Forum


Academy Award-winning sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Wall-E, etc.) will introduce William Wellman’s 1927 silent classic Wings at New York City’s Film Forum on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

Burtt, who re-created the authentic sound effects for the new 4K digital restoration, will present an illustrated talk detailing the making of Wings and its 2012 restoration by Paramount Pictures. The screening of the feature will be followed by a Q&A with Burtt.

For the all-new 4K digital (DCP) restoration, created to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Paramount Pictures, Burtt and the team of sound engineers at Skywalker Sound added authentic World War I sound effects—such as engine motors from the actual planes depicted in the film and other sounds used originally in the 1927 roadshow presentations—to give modern audiences a true-to-the-period experience. The restoration also incorporates the film’s original score by John Stepan Zamecnik and color tinting and a re-creation of its “Handschiegl” color effects, originally stenciled right onto the prints.

Ben Burtt has worked in many aspects of film production for over 35 years, including directing, producing, sound design, sound editing, animation, visual effects and voice design in motion pictures and television. Perhaps best known as the sound designer for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, he has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards for his sound work and has won four Oscars: for Star Wars (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

Burtt’s instantly recognizable sounds include the lightsaber hum and heavy breathing of Darth Vadar in Star Wars, the voice of E.T., and characters like R2-D2 and Wall-E. His most recent sound design work has been for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Super 8.

The restored Wings opens Film Forum’s three-week, 42-film Wellman series. The director’s son, William William, Jr., will also be on hand opening weekend to introduce Wings (Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.) and two of Wellman’s films produced by and starring John Wayne: Island in the Sky (Saturday, Feb 11, at 4 p.m.) and The High and the Mighty (Sunday, Feb. 12, at 4 p.m.). All features will be followed by a Q&A with Wellman.