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Muraki, Yoshiro

MURAKI, Yoshiro



Art Director. Nationality: Japanese. Born: Tokyo, 1924. Education: Studied architecture, China University. Family: Married the art director Shinobu (Muraki). Career: 1947—joined Toho Studio as assistant art director; 1955—first film as art director, Record of a Living Being, first of many films directed by Kurosawa; 1970—with his wife, formed the independent art designing company Komu. Awards: Japanese Academy Award for Ran, 1985.

Films as Art Director:

1954

Renai tokkyu (Love Express) (Suzuki and Sugie) (asst)

1955

Tenka taihei (The World Is Peaceful) (Sugie—2 parts) (asst); Ikomono no kiroku (Record of a Living Being; I Live in Fear) (Kurosawa)

1956

Kuroobi sangoku-shi (Black Belt History of Three Countries) (Taniguchi); Chiemi no haihiiru (Chiemi's High Heeled Shoes) (Suzuki); Aoi me (Blue Bud) (Suzuki)

1957

Kumonosu-jo (The Throne of Blood) (Kurosawa); Bibou no miyako (Beauty Capital) (Matsubayashi); Donzoko (The Lower Depths) (Kurosawa)

1958

Shachou sandai-ki (The Record of Three Generations of Presidents) (Matsubayashi—2 parts); Kakushi toride no sanakunin (The Hidden Fortress) (Kurosawa)

1959

Daigaku no oneichan (Young Girl at the University) (Sugie); Watash iwa kai ni naritai (I Want to Be a Shellfish) (Hashimoto); Aruhi watashi wa (One Day, I . . .) (Okamoto); Uwayaku shitayaku godouyaku (Seniors, Juniors, Colleagues) (Honda); Oneichan makari touru (Young Girl Dares to Pass) (Sugie)

1960

Otoko tai otoko (Man vs. Man) (Taniguchi); Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well) (Kurosawa); Sarariiman Chushingura (Salaried Men's Loyal Ronin Story) (Sugie—2 parts)

1961

Minami no kaze to nami (South Wind and Waves) (Hashimoto); Yojimbo (The Bodyguard) (Kurosawa); Toiretto buchou (Toilet Section Chief) (Kakei)

1962

Sanjuro (Kurosawa); Shachou koukou-ko (The Story of the Company President's Overseas Travels) (Sugie—2 parts); Koukousei to onna kyoushi: hijou no seishun (High School Student and Woman Teacher: Merciless Youth) (Onchi)

1963

Tengoku to jigoku (High and Low) (Kurosawa); Goju man-nin no isan (The Legacy of the 500,000) (Mifune); Nippon ichi no iro-otoko (The Best Playboy in Japan) (Furusawa)

1965

Akahige (Red Beard) (Kurosawa); Tanuki no taishou (Badger General) (Yamamoto); Kemonomichi (The Way of the Beast) (Sugawa)

1966

Onna wa ikuman aritotemo (Although There Are Millions of Women) (Sugie); Jajauma narashi (The Taming of the Shrew) (Sugie); Sanbiki no tanuki (Three Badgers) (Suzuki); Tanuki no kyujitsu (Badger's Holiday) (Yamamoto)

1967

Jouiuchi (Rebellion) (Kobayashi)

1968

Toshigoro (The Prime of Life) (Deme)

1969

Dankon (Bullet Wound) (Moritani)

1970

Tora! Tora! Tora! (Fleischer, Masuda, and Fukasaku); Dodesukaden (Dodeskaden) (Kurosawa)

1971

Dare no tame ni aisuruka (For Whom Do We Love?) (Deme)

1972

Kaigun tokubetsu nenshouhei (Navy's Special Boy Sailors) (Imai)

1973

Ningen kakumei (Human Revolution) (Masuda and Nakano); Nippon chiubotsu (The Sinking of Japan; Tidal Wave) (Moritani and Nakano)

1974

Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen (Nostradamus's Great Prophecy) (Masuda, Nakano, and Sakano)

1975

Seishun no mon (The Gate of Youth) (Urayama); Tokyo-wan enjou (Tokyo Bay on Fire) (Ishida and Nakano)

1976

Suri Lanka no ai to wakare (Love and Separation in Sri Lanka) (Kinoshita); Zoku ningen kakumai (Human Revolution: Sequel) (Masadu)

1977

Seishun no mon: Jiritsu hen (The Gate of Youth: Independence) (Urayama)

1978

Seishoku no ishique (The Foundation of Ordination) (Moritani)

1980

Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior; The Double) (Kurosawa)

1982

Maboroshi no mizuumi (Lake of Illusion) (Hashimoto); Kaikyou (Strait) (Moritani)

1983

Shousetsu Yoshida gakkou (Novel: Yoshida School) (Moritani); Izakaya Chouji (Chouki the Bar Owner) (Kouhata)

1985

Ran (Kurosawa) (co)

1990

Dreams (Kurosawa) (co)

1991

Rhapsody in August (Kurosawa)

1999

Ame agaru (After the Rain) (Koizumi)

* * *

Although Yoshiro Muraki has worked on more than 60 films since the mid-1950s, he is most famous for his collaboration with Akira Kurosawa. He and his colleague and future wife Shinobu were nominally assistant art directors for Kurosawa's Stray Dog, but in fact were primarily responsible for the difficult job of constructing many sets under time and budget pressures.

He was promoted to art director in 1955, and his first work as art director for Kurosawa was in Record of a Living Being. Since that film, he has worked on all of the master director's films except Dersu Uzala. Kurosawa's extremely high standards challenged Muraki to create memorable production designs for each of his films. For example, the dark shining floors and audaciously simple interior sets of the castle of The Throne of Blood are an ideal backdrop for the intrigues of its occupants. Other memorable sets include the houses and restaurants along a road where gusts of wind swirl the dust in Yojimbo, the spacious hilltop mansion and the overheated hovel below in High and Low, and the erratic shapes of the living spaces in the slum in Dodeskaden.

As the scale and expense of Kurosawa's productions grew (limiting his filmmaking opportunities), Muraki's work came to symbolize the uncompromising standard of craftsmanship which Kurosawa demands from his crew. For Kagemusha and Ran, Muraki recreated the castles and battlefields of the sixteenth-century Japanese civil war period with meticulous care, choosing authentic furniture and construction materials in order to create the proper setting for the drama. His work is based on his own thorough historical research, as well as on his ingenuity in varying the scale of the sets and props to create the images which will work most effectively on film.

At Toho Studio, Muraki had worked on many other film genres, including white-collar office comedies, melodramas, youth romances, and action films. Since establishing his own design company in 1970, he has collaborated on many big-budget war films and disaster films.

—Kyoko Hirano

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