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.
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 poets Michael McClure and Gary Snyder, and the disembodied voice of Alan Watts, ruminating upon the passage of time and our perception of the wild.
Locations range from the architecture of military barracks and concrete gun emplacements to a dense forested valley, where nature is reclaiming the derelict buildings of Druid Heights, a 1960s counterculture community; home to the abandoned, circular library of philosopher Alan Watts.