Celebrated as his pinnacle achievement, Brakhage filmed this “epic” while living a hermetic life with his wife, Judy, and dog, Sirius, in a cabin in the snow-filled mountains of Colorado amidst the beauty and the danger of the natural elements. The film begins with a “Prelude,” a section which Brakhage describes in the interview that follows as the dream which ignited the rest of the film. Inspired by Ezra Pound's Cantos, the epic then continues in four sections.
Breaking entirely with the traditional role of film as a lens to record images as they already exist, Brakhage saw film as a medium in and of itself and experimented on it like a palette through burning, scratching and spitting on the surface of the film itself. Brakhage even devised a system which allowed him to paint on film with ink, renderings which recall the color and abstraction of Pollack. In several of these stills, glimpses of moth wings appear, a naturalistic filter which Brakhage superimposed on sections of the film, adding texture to the images.
In "Dog Star Man," Brakhage further experiments with recording on film which has already been used, feeding the same reel through the camera forwards and then backwards and then sometimes forwards again. By the fourth and final section, there are four superimpositions of images.