03 November 2010

Ten Things I Know About Yoshiro Muraki (村木与四郎)

Yoshiro Muraki (L) on the set of Ran
As Aaron Gerow pointed out in his obituary for Yoshiro Muraki (村木与四郎, 1924-2006), very little has been written in English about art direction and production design in Japanese cinema. If one were to make a top ten list of the best Japanese art directors of the twentieth century, Muraki would undoubtedly be on it. He was one of Akira Kurosawa’s loyal collaborators working on about 20 of his films throughout his long and varied career. He also worked often with directors Hideo Suzuki and Toshio Sugie. Here are ten things I know about Yoshiro Muraki, followed by the most complete filmography that I could compile.

1.
Muraki was a close wartime friend of Kihachiro Kawamoto - who would go on to become one of the top puppet animators in the world. While on leave home from Manchuria the two men travelled to Kyoto and Nara together because they wanted to see the famous sites there at least once in case they didn’t survive the war.  Related Post: Passing of a Puppet Master
2.
Kawamoto and Muraki both entered the art department at Toho in 1946 and apprenticed under Takashi Matsuyama (aka So Matsuyama). Unlike Kawamoto, Muraki survived the mass purging of employees at the end of the Toho Strikes.
3.
Muraki was one of Kurosawa’s oldest collaborators. He first worked for Kurosawa on Drunken Angel (1948) when he was working as an assistant to Matsuyama. In fact, all four of the films that Muraki worked on during his apprenticeship as an assistant art director were Kurosawa films.
4.
Soon after his promotion to art director at Toho, Muraki found himself working for Kurosawa again on Kurosawa’s I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being (1955). He continued as Kurosawa’s art director for all of Kurosawa’s films except for Dersu Uzala (1975).
5.
Muraki was nominated for 4 Academy Awards for his work on Yojimbo (costume design), Tora! Tora! Tora! (art/set decoration), Kagemusha (art/set decoration), and Ran (art/set decoration decoration)
6.
He won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Art Direction for Ran (with Shinobu Muraki), Dreams (with Akira Sakuragi), Rhapsody in August, Madadayo, Shijushichinin no Shikaku, and After the Rain.
7.
The Murakis
His wife, Shinobu Muraki (村木忍,1923-1997), was also a talented art director who also apprenticed under Matsuyama. They married in 1951. His wife debuted as an art director for Kon Ichikawa’s early feature film Blue Revolution (青色革命/Aoiro Kakumei, 1953). The Murakis worked on many films together including Kurosawa’s Dodes’kaden and Ran.
8.
In Waiting on the Weather , Teruyo Nogami describes Muraki’s sets as “strong and spectacular: nothing little and fussy about them. Their strong presence must be what Kurosawa liked so much.” (p. 115)
9.
Kumonosu-jō in Throne of Blood
“No one could be better than Muraki at making castles. The black castle he made on the skirt of Mount Fuji for The Throne of Blood. . . was outstanding. And in Ran. . . the castle going down in flames was beautiful. That one was modeled after Maruoka Castle in Fukui Prefecture.” (Nogami, pp.115-16)
10.
In recognition of his talented career, Muraki received the Order of the Purple Ribbon in 1994 (one year after his wife received the same honour). In 1999 he received the Order of the Riding Sun, 4th class.

Filmography
As Assistant Art Director
Drunken Angel - (The Criterion Collection)
1948 Drunken Angel (Akira Kurosawa)
醉いどれ天使/Yoidore tenshi
1949 Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa)
野良犬/Nora Inu
1952 Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa)
生きる
1954 Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
七人の侍

As Art Director / Production Designer / Costume Design

1954 Kowarebeshi (Hideo Suzuki)
魔子恐るべし
1954 Renai Tokkyu (Hideo Suzuki/Toshio Sugie)
恋愛特急
1954 Smuggling Ship (Toshio Sugie)
密輸船/Mitsuyu-sen
1955 Tenka taihei (Toshio Sugie)
天下泰平
1955 Zoku tenka taihei (Toshio Sugie)
続天下泰平
 Record of a Living Being
1955 I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being (Akira Kurosawa)
生きものの記録/Ikimono no kiroku
1956 Black Belt Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Senkichi Taniguchi)
黒帯三国志 /Kuro-obi Sangokushi
1956 Chiemi’s Shoes (Hideo Suzuki)
チエミの婦人靴/ Chiemi no Fujin-kutsu
1956 Green Sprout (Hideo Suzuki)
青い芽/Aoi Me
Throne of Blood - Criterion Collection 
1957 Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa)
蜘蛛巣城/Kumonosu-jō
1957 Katachi no Miyako (Shūe Matsubayashi)
美貌の都
1957 The Lower Depths (Akira Kurosawa)
どん底/Donzoku
1958 Shacho sandaiki (Shūe Matsubayashi)
社長三代記
1958 Zoku shacho sandaiki (Shūe Matsubayashi)
続社長三代記
The Hidden Fortress - Criterion Collection 
1958 The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa)
隠し砦の三悪人/Kakushi toride no san akunin
1959 Three Dolls in College (Toshio Sugie)
大学のお姐ちゃん/Daigaku no Onechan
1959 I Want to Be a Shellfish (Shinobu Hashimoto)
私は貝になりたい/Watashi wa kai ni naritai
1959 One Day I. . . (Kihachi Okamoto)
ある日わたしは/Aru hi watashi wa
1959 Seniors, Juniors, Co-Workers (Ishiro Honda)
上役・下役・ご同役 (Uwayaku Shitayaku Godoyaku)
1959 Three Dolls go to Hong Kong (Toshio Sugie)
お姐ちゃん罷り通る
1960 Shin Santo Juyaku: Tabi to onna to sake no maki (Masanori Kakei)
新・三等重役 旅と女と酒の巻
1960 Man vs. Man (Senkichi Taniguchi)
男対男/Otoko tai otoko
The Bad Sleep Well - Criterion Collection 
1960 The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa)
悪い奴ほどよく眠る/Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
1960 Salaryman Chushingura (Toshio Sugie)
サラリーマン忠臣蔵
1961 Southern Wind and Waves (Shinobu Hashimoto)
南の風と波/Minami Kaze to Nami
1961 Salaryman Chushingura, the Sequel (Toshio Sugie)
続サラリーマン忠臣蔵/Zoku Salaryman Chushingura
1961 Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa)
用心棒/Yōjinbō
1961 Toilet Shacho (Masanori Kakei)
トイレット部長 
 Yojimbo & Sanjuro - Two Films By Akira Kurosawa - (The Criterion Collection)
1962 Sanjuro (Akira Kurosawa)
椿三十郎/Tsubaki Sanjūrō
1962 Three Gentlemen from Tokyo (Toshio Sugie)
社長洋行記/Shacho yokoki
1962 Three Gentlemen from Tokyo, the Sequel (Toshio Sugie)
続社長洋行記/Zoku shacho yokoki
1962 Kokosei to Onna Kyoshi Hijo no Seishun (Hideo Onchi)
高校生と女教師 非情の青春
1963 High and Low (Akira Kurosawa)
天国と地獄/Tengoku to Jigoku
1963 The Legacy of the 500,000 (Toshiro Mifune)
五十万人の遺産/Gojuman-nin no isan
1963 (Kengo Furusawa)
日本一の色男/Nipponichi no Iro-otoko
1963 One-chan Sandai-ki (Masanori Kakei) 
お姐ちゃん三代記 
Red Beard - Criterion Collection 
1965 Red Beard (Akira Kurosawa)
赤ひげ/Akahige
1965 Tanuki no Taisho (Kajiro Yamamoto)
狸の大将
1965 Beast Alley (Eizo Sugawa)
けものみち/Kemonomichi
1966 Onna wa ikuban ari totemo (Toshio Sugie)
女は幾万ありとても
1966 Taming of the Shrew (Toshio Sugie)
じゃじゃ馬ならし/Jaja-uma narashi
1966 Three Tanuki (Hideo Suzuki)
3匹の狸/Sampiki no Tanuki
1966 Aogeba totoshi (Minoru Shibuya)
仰げば尊し
1966 Tanuki Holiday (Kajiro Yamamoto)
狸の休日/Tanuki no Yasumi
Samurai Rebellion - Criterion Collection 
1967 Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi)
上意討ち 拝領妻始末 /Joi-uchi: Hairyo tsuma shimatsu
1968 Toshigoro (Masanobu Deme)
年ごろ
1969 Bullet Wound (Shiro Moritani)
弾痕/Dankon
1970 Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer/Kinji Fukasaku/Toshio Masuda)
トラ・トラ・トラ!
1970 Dodes’ka-den (Akira Kurosawa)
どですかでん/Dodesukaden
1971 Dare no tame ni ai suru ka (Masanobu Deme)
誰のために愛するか
 Battle of Okinawa
1971 Battle of Okinawa (Kihachi Okamoto)
激動の昭和史 沖縄決戦/Gekido no Shouwaji Okinawa Kessen
1972 Kaigun tokubetsu nensho hei (Tadashi Imai)
海軍特別年少兵
1973 The Human Revolution (Toshio Matsuda)
人間革命/Ningen kakumei
1973 Japan Sinks (aka Tidal Wave, Sakyo Komatsu)
日本沈没/Nihon Chinbotsu
Last Days of Planet Earth [VHS] 
1974 The Last Days of Planet Earth
(aka Catastrophe 1999: The Prophecies of Nostradamus, Toshio Masuda)
ノストラダムスの大予言 Catastrophe-1999
/Nostradamsu no daiyogen: Catastrophe 1999
1975 The Gate of Youth (Kiriro Urayama)
青春の門 /Seishun no mon
1975 Tokyo Bay Inferno (Katsumune Ishida)
東京湾炎上/Tokyo-wan Enjo
1976 Sri Lanka no ai to wakare (Keisuke Kinoshita)
スリランカの愛と別れ
1976 The Human Revolution, the Sequel (Toshio Masuda)
続人間革命/Zoku Ningen Kakumei
1977 The Gate of Youth, Part 2 (Kirio Urayama)
青春の門/Seishun no mon
1978 Seishoku no ishibumi (Shiro Moritani)
聖職の碑
Kagemusha - Criterion Collection 
1980 Kagemusha (Akira Kurosawa)
影武者
1982 Lake of Illusions (Shinobu Hashimoto)
幻の湖/Maboroshi no mizuumi
1982 Kaikyo (Shiro Moritani)
海峡
1983 Shosetsu Yoshida Gakko (Shiro Moritani)
小説吉田学校
1983 Choji Izakaya (Yasuo Furuhata)
居酒屋兆治/Izakaya Choji
Ran (StudioCanal Collection) [Blu-ray] 
1985 Ran (Akira Kurosawa)
1986 Kozomonogatari Chijo ni Orita Tenshi (Ryo Kinoshita)
子象物語 地上に降りた天使
1986 Koisuru Onna-tachi (Kazuki Ohmori)
恋する女たち
1988 Wuthering Heights (Yoshihige Yoshida)
嵐が丘 /Arashi ga Oka
1988 Oracion, the Good-looking Horse (Shigemichi Sugita/Fuji TV)
優駿 ORACION /Yushun Oracion
1989 The Demon Comes in Spring (Akira Kobayashi)
春来る鬼/Haru kuru oni
1990 Dreams (Akira Kurosawa)
夢/Yume
1991 Rhapsody in August (Akira Kurosawa)
八月の狂詩曲/Hachigatsu no kyōshikyoku
1993 Madadayo (Akira Kurosawa)
まあだだよ
1993 Rainbow Bridge (Zenzo Matsuyama)
虹の橋/Niji no hashi 
Kon Ichikawa's 47 Ronin 
1994 47 Ronin (aka 47 Assassins, Kon Ichikawa)
四十七人の刺客/Shijushichinin no shikaku
1999 After the Rain (Takashi Koizumi)
雨あがる/Ame agaru
2002 Letter from the Mountain (Takashi Koizumi)
阿弥陀堂だより/Amida-do Dayori
© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2010

This blog entry is a part of the Japanese Film Blogathon 2010
  


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