It’s the tattoo seen around the world. Literally. You can barely walk past a Harry Potter fan without seeing the Deathly Hallows symbol on their person. And for anyone who vaguely knows about Harry Potter, they’ll know that it’s one of the most important narrative elements from what we now consider to be the best fantasy movies.
The Deathly Hallows form the driving force of the final movies in the franchise. Essentially, the main trio of Harry Potter characters spend a lot of time trying to track them down in order to defeat the best Harry Potter villain, Voldemort.
But it turns out, this detail from the best family movies around has a very unexpected inspiration, and it all comes from the classic adventure movie, The Man Who Would Be King. In a BBC documentary about the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, J.K Rowling revealed the movie’s influence over the Deathly Hallows now iconic symbol.
“The Masonic symbol is very important in that movie,” said Rowling. “And it was literally 20 years later that I looked at the sign of the Deathly Hallows and realised how similar they were. When I saw the movie again and saw the Masonic symbol, I went cold all over and I thought, ‘Is that why the Hallows symbol is what it is?'”
The Masonic symbol (AKA: The Square and Compass, as seen below) is one of the most well-recognized symbols of Freemasonary. It represents the tools used in Masonic ritual, and appears frequently throughout The Man Who Would Be King, most notably as a pendent that Sean Connery‘s Daniel Dravot wears throughout.
The reasoning for Rowling’s shock at seeing her subconscious memory of the symbol reemerge is because of her profound connection to The Man Who Would Be King. During a time when she was sketching the character of Professor Sprout, she had that exact movie playing in the background. While this was happening, her mother some 250 miles away sadly passed.
Since then, Rowling’s connection to the Deathly Hallows symbol has meant more than as a mere reference to one of her favorite films, but rather as a reminder that the Harry Potter franchise relates back to some personal influences.
“And I’ve got a feeling that, on some deep, subconscious level, they are connected,” Rowling said. “So I feel as though I worked my way back over 20 years to that night, because the Potter series is hugely about loss, and – I’ve said this before – if my mother hadn’t died I think the stories would be utterly different and not what they are.”
For more on the wizarding world, take a look at how to watch the Harry Potter movies in order, and get to know the Harry Potter cast. You can also take a look at our guide to the Harry Potter TV series release date and Cursed Child release date. What’s more, we’ve got some great intel on the Harry Potter plot holes, plus ten facts you probably didn’t know about Voldemort.
For a deep dive, take a look at our feature on why Hermione overshadows Harry Potter in the movies. After that, take note of all the new movies coming out, as well as our list of the best movies of all time!
The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two charities we encourage you to visit: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and Mermaids in the UK.