They both do the same thing - bring empty suits of armor to life to be used in battle. Which leads us to...
Miss Price is actually Professor McGonagall
Miss Price is Professor McGonagall's mother.
Substiutiary Locomotion doesn't just animate inanimate objects with energy.
All the items we see under the power of the spell seem to have odd personalities and quirks to them, and for the ones whose owners we know, these seem to relate either to their owners' personalities and quirks or subconscious feelings and desires of those owners. Professor Browne, who is a cheeky fellow but also likes Miss Price a great deal, has a pair of shoes that boot her in the rear; meanwhile she has feelings for him she is denying/suppressing, and her nightgown approaches him to dance (and chases away the vicar whom she is not
interested in). Carrie and Paul, who just want to have fun, are seen dancing and playing with their own clothes—except when Paul is being 'disciplined' by Miss Price's pantyhose (she had just warned him to calm down and stop making a ruckus). Charlie, meanwhile, gets to be on the receiving end of his own troublesome, rebellious nature courtesy of his Sunday pants. Even the vicar, who harbors a not-so-secret desire to voyeuristically pry into Miss Price's life so he can romance her, has his hat go flying inside to investigate.
This implies, then, that the suits of Animated Armor
are not merely animated by magic, but by the spirits of the dead soldiers who once owned and wore them; this, as much as the age of the armor, would explain why they responded to the ancient, old-fashioned way of speaking the spell words instead of needing the 'modernized' song-and-dance number, because it was familiar to them. This also explains why the armor gradually sinks to the ground when the spell is broken instead of simply dropping, to visually signify the spirits returning to the Other Side as their armor "died" again.
- It also explains the way everyone's clearly looking at each other with a 'are they with you- nope' glance when the bagpipers start playing. After all, most of them were English soldiers, so what's a Scot doing there.
Emelius Browne is just a stage name.
Professor Browne's real identity is Michael Banks.
Michael was exposed to magic early in his life, and it's quite likely that he developed it into an act later in life. Add in a case of Identical Grandson
, and it makes perfect sense.
Our heroes never actually went to the real Island of Naboombu.
Common sense dictates that Real!Naboombu, colonized by anthropomorphic animals sometime in the Middle Ages or Renaissance, would be a rather sinister Dr.-Moreau-ish place (assuming the animal colony still exists some 500 years later, which itself is open to reasonable doubt). What's more, one would expect that a location in the real world would be filmed in live action, to match the rest of the movie.
But where does the bedknob take our heroes? To a colorful, not-particularly-sinister, 2D, animated world that looks exactly like the one in Paul's storybook
. Inevitable conclusion: when it received orders to go to Naboombu, the ever-literal, ever-pragmatic bedknob took them to the closest location with that name ... the one inside the book itself
This explains why the Star doesn't travel back with them (it's just a drawing in a book and therefore can't transfer to the real world), why there are so many African animals on an island supposedly colonized by the menagerie of a European astrologer (the animals are just the figments of a book illustrator's imagination), and why those animals, despite being cut off from the real world for 500+ years, know the game of soccer (more artistic license from the illustrator).
So how did this early-20th-century book illustrator know about Naboombu at all? Easy: the illustrator had access to a complete copy of The Spells of Astaroth
, and thought it was absolute bunk, but decided it would make a good children's book. That, in turn, explains why the drawing of the Star has the actual spell on it: the illustrator, much like Emelius, was just copying fun words out of an old book, and was totally unaware of their true powers.
Emelius's house is the most magical thing in the whole movie.
All we really know about Emelius's house is (1) that it was abandoned by its true occupants during a bomb scare, (2) that the bomb never went off, allowing Emelius to take up residence, and (3) that the house's library inexplicably contains both the Naboombu storybook and
an incomplete but useful copy of The Spells of Astaroth
much? Absolutely—unless the house itself is influencing the course of events
to prevent Astaroth's magic from being destroyed. First it causes two books pertaining to Astaroth to come into its domain; then it protects them during the Blitz by making that Nazi bomb never go off; then it manipulates history in such a way that Emelius just "happens" to be in the area, just "happens" to move in, and just "happens" to find the book. All because the house is in a life-or-death struggle to make sure Astaroth's spells eventually end up with the best possible caretaker for them: Miss Price.
And the house cares about all this, and is magic and sentient in the first place, for a very simple reason: it was built on the site where Astaroth worked
. Elementary, my dear wizard.
Astaroth didn't die.
He's a medieval or Renaissance alchemist along the lines of Faust
, his spells actually work, and his name is the same as one of the Crowned Princes of Hell. In other words, the implication is extremely strong that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for magical knowledge and immortality.
When his anthropomorphic animal experiment backfired, the animals tried to kill him. Since the Devil's charm was already on him, however, he didn't get a Disney Villain Death
; he got a Disney Death
. He was only beaten unconscious. When he came to, all his magical apparatuses had been stolen by the animals, and the concussion had given him amnesia. All his magical knowledge was gone, and now he was forced to live an eternity trying to get it back. (Well, what do you expect from bartering with the Devil? A happy
During the next 500ish years, he slowly worked out what had happened and who he was, and eventually he got hold of a pirated copy of his spell book—but the first half of the book was missing, so all he had was indexes and appendices and biographical information about himself. From that moment on, he's devoted all his energies toward finding the missing first half of the book, the half with all the spells in it. He's especially anxious to regain his greatest discovery, the Substitutiary Locomotion incantation. There isn't much he wouldn't do to get the spellbook complete again.
Which is why, in the 1940s, he's working as a sinister and very mysterious Bookseller in Portobello Road.