Romantic, evocative, authoritative.
Wax seals have long been a symbol of romance, power, eminence and secrecy.
Favoured as a focal point in fantasy and historical films, there is nothing more powerful than the sealing of a document with a wax seal to alert the audience to an important scene, or the turning point in a plot.
It's no wonder wax seals have been a popular motif in movies, adding a touch of elegance, nostalgia and mystery to various scenes.
Here are seven times wax seals have featured in famous movies.
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
In this movie, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry uses a wax seal to convey the school's official emblem. Harry Potter receives his acceptance letter to the school, complete with a red wax seal, which signifies his entry into the wizarding world. This seal is broken by Hagrid, who delivers the letter to Harry.
But there has been some controversy about how the wax seal was represented in the film. Fans of the Harry Potter novels have pointed out that the red wax seals used in the 2001 movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, were in fact supposed to be purple, as described in the original novel. An excerpt from the book describes the envelope seal in detail:
“Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter ‘H’.”- Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone - J.K. Rowling
We guess that solves that one!
2. Phantom of the Opera (2004)
In a powerful scene from The Phantom of the Opera, Gerard Butler's Phantom composes an ominous note, demanding his private box be kept free for him. He seals the envelope with lashings of wax (we wouldn't recommend this) and emphatically stamps the wax seal down. He removes the seal while the wax is still wet (again, we don't recommend this) and long, thin ribbons of sealing wax cling to the seal as he pulls it away, revealing a large skull motif. Very foreboding.
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
When Bilbo Baggins leaves his home, Bag End, he entrusts all his worldly possessions to his nephew Frodo. He also gifts the young Hobbit with the realm's most powerful object, The One Ring. In an indication of the ring's danger and potency, The One Ring is sealed in an envelope by Gandalf and marked with a wax seal bearing the insignia of the House of Elrond, before being entrusted to Frodo to be destroyed.
4. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
In the opening scene of Tim Burtons gothic horror film, Sleepy Hollow, we see droplets of russet red sealing wax dripping onto parchment. The camera pans to reveal the elaborate calligraphy of the Last will and Testament of Van Garret. The paper is folded and sealed with a wax seal bearing the Van Garret family crest. The importance of this document is further reinforced when the will is placed into a beautiful leather pouch and transported with haste, by a private coach. Suspenseful and Creepy!
5. The Da Vinci Code (2006)
In this thriller movie, a wax seal is used to seal a secret message from the Priory of Sion. The symbol on the seal represents one of the sacred feminine archetypes that are central to the movie's plot.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: A Dead Man's Chest (2006)
In this swashbuckling adventure film, the heroine Elizabeth Swann persuades the villainous Lord Beckett to sign and seal the Letters of the Marque in order to obtain a pardon for her fiancé Will Turner. Whist held at gunpoint by the brave Elizabeth, Lord Beckett strikes a deal to obtain Jack Sparrow's compass, before sealing the pardon letter with his signet ring wax seal.
7. The King's Speech (2010)
In this Oscar-winning film, King George VI uses a wax seal to sign the Instrument of Abdication, formally relinquishing his claim to the throne in favour of his brother.
These are just a few examples of how wax seals have been used to add depth and intrigue to various movie scenes. Wax seals have been used in film to convey power, status, and secrecy. Whether it's a seal on a letter from Hogwarts, the Great Seal of the Realm in The Lord of the Rings, or a secret message in The Da Vinci Code, the wax seal remains an important symbol in the world of cinema.
Let us know which movies we may have missed. Which are your favourite films featuring wax seals?