Walk the path, sit the rains, grind the ink, wet the brush, unroll the broad white space....Lead out and tip the moist, black line.
Gary Snyder's invocation to the muse of a Chinese scroll painter sets the tone in a short film adapted from Cartwright and Jordan's longer work, Headlands Lookout.
Filmed in former US military barracks, and in the long-abandoned homes and circular library of Gary Snyder and Zen philosopher Alan Watts, Off the Trail follows a central protagonist, a soldier from another era, as he performs a series of actions and rituals. The uniformed figure paints Chinese nature symbols, chants, meditates and wanders dreamlike through a rolling Californian landscape of fog-shrouded hills, coastal defences and dense woodland valleys. Scenes are accompanied by haiku and poetry readings from Michael McClure and Gary Snyder, and the disembodied voice of Alan Watts, ruminating upon the passage of time and our perception of the 'wild'.