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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:


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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)


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


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)


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)


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


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)


Jouiuchi (Rebellion) (Kobayashi)


Toshigoro (The Prime of Life) (Deme)


Dankon (Bullet Wound) (Moritani)


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Ran (Kurosawa) (co)


Dreams (Kurosawa) (co)


Rhapsody in August (Kurosawa)


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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