Sir Ian McKellen reads the poetry, Michael Wood traces the journey on the ground. Together they conjure up the extraordinary life, times and words of China’s greatest poet, Du Fu. In this film, the first to ever be made about Du Fu in the west, Michael follows his tracks by road, train and riverboat. Along the way, he meets ordinary people, dancers and musicians, who help to tell the amazing story of a poet whose words have resonated through the centuries, describing the experiences of ordinary people caught up in war, corruption, famine and natural disasters. "I am one of the privileged. If my life is so bitter, then how much worse is the life of the common people?"