Color Of A Brisk And Leaping Day

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, Historical

Exquisite black-and-white landscapes of the American West hearken back to 19th-century photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan, a government photographer sent to capture images of uncharted territory in advance of the transcontinental railroad. Writer-director Christopher Münch’s enthusiasm for the bygone locomotive era echoes in every frame of this tender...read more

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Reviewed by Rachel Liebling
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Exquisite black-and-white landscapes of the American West hearken back to 19th-century photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan, a government photographer sent to capture images of uncharted territory in advance of the transcontinental railroad. Writer-director Christopher Münch’s enthusiasm for the bygone locomotive era echoes in every frame of this tender story on the demise of the railroad as the highway breaks into the Yosemite mountain region following WWII. John Lee (Peter Alexander III), a half-Chinese, half-French trolley repairman from Pasadena, is determined to preserve the "Iron Horse" legacy his immigrant grandfather labored to create. He secures a silent financier to purchase an obsolete branch of the Central Pacific railroad in the remote mountain town of Merced. With the help of Robinson, a wise old engineer portrayed lovingly by Henry Gibson, and Skeeter (Michael Stipe) the somber depot manager (who mutters amateurishly written poetic statements with difficulty), they unite to transform the remote logging run into a viable passenger line. Lee’s ensuing romance with a Native American park ranger offers a none-too subtle opportunity to squeeze in historical background on the demise of the Mewak Indians caught in the merciless path of westward expansion. The stark beauty of the cinematography and ingenious use of archival footage is far more compelling than the overly precious narrative, but the film succeeds admirably in capturing a wistful portrait of vanishing American splendor in a breathtaking locale where "nothing will ever be the same."

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Exquisite black-and-white landscapes of the American West hearken back to 19th-century photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan, a government photographer sent to capture images of uncharted territory in advance of the transcontinental railroad. Writer-director C… (more)

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