Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The Yosemite Valley Railroad, which runs through the breathtaking scenery and stunning vistas of the Merced River Canyon to its terminus at El Portal outside Yosemite National Park, is on the brink of failure. The grandson of a Chinese railroad laborer embarks on a romantic, but ultimately doomed, quest to save this railroad from being sold for scrap. His love of trains finds him working as a railroad-man, instead of at his father's profitable business. He manages to locate a wealthy eccentric investor to help him acquire the railroad, but its financial inviability makes this a quixotic reprieve, at best. The film also portrays the anti-Asian racism present in America at the conclusion of World War II.

  • The film is based in large part on the real Yosemite Valley Railroad, which ran from 1907 to 1945 outside Yosemite National Park and though that short line's visual presence has been totally erased from history, the film's designer and locations team did a breathtaking job of bringing this long-lost railroad back to cinematic life. The central character is loosely based on the real-life 18-year-old John McFadden of Pasadena, who in 1945 was alleged to have a plan to save the railroad from being scrapped. Unfortunately, McFadden failed and the railroad was lost.


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