Downes, Olin. "'Fantasia' Discussed from a Musical Standpoint--Sound Reproduction Called." New York Times 14 Nov. 1940: 28. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. ProQuest. Van Pelt Library Philadelphia, PA. 2 Dec. 2008. <http://proxy.library.upenn.edu:2082/>.
Downes’ article is a review of the film in the context of the interpretation of music. He describes that Fantasia proves that wonderful things can be done with the combination of image and music. However, Fantasia is an example of what not to do with such a medium. Downes criticizes the films very purpose. He explains that many musical authorities say that such pieces cannot be related in any other language but there own. Listeners should be free to imagine only what they can fathom and not preconceived, set interpretations. He asserts that nothing positive comes out of “scrambling” different art forms together. He argues that, had the animation been based on musically knowledgeable sources, the film could have been an outstanding creation. He acknowledges several moments in which the film does not harm the music, but for the most part, he disagrees with Fantasia’s depictions. He is utterly repulsed by the sequence of Beethoven’s Pastoral that renders the film worse than “footless.” Though Disney cut and modified the musical pieces to fit the animation, Downes notes that fortunately the music has survived, but such inappropriate representations should not encompass such acclaimed musicians.
From a musical standpoint, “Fantasia” is a monstrosity. Borrowing from already-established music, “Fantasia” attempts to invent a form of expression that it cannot sustain. Conceptually, Disney was on the right track with “Fantasia,” but it is impossible to nationally portray false interpretations of such acclaimed musical pieces without being reprimanded by musical authorities. Rightfully so, Downes and many others were “utterly repulsed” by scenes in the film. Instead of creating art within its medium and conventions, “Fantasia” tries to invent a new kind of art that combines abstract music and images. We can appreciate Disney’s attempt here, but still the studio cannot blend abstract music with childish animation (like with Beethoven’s Pastoral) and get away with it. “Fantasia” is more of a crime against art than a form of art