A while back, after seeing West Side Story
-- also directed by Robert Wise -- it struck me that it had something in common with TMP. They're both movies that are often driven by lengthy set pieces of imagery and music with no dialogue. Even a lot of the musical numbers in WSS are instrumental for long periods. So maybe Wise was approaching TMP with a similar "musical" sensibility, the mindset that it's okay to stop the story and spend several minutes showcasing beautiful music and visuals. Which, for me, works just fine in TMP.