Gil Parrondo



Gil Parrondo, the only Spaniard in possession of two Oscar statuettes, used to say that a good set decorator has a “sense of color, of architecture, and especially of frame,” and this admirably shows in his work. Born in Luarca in 1921, Manuel Gil Parrondo y Rico-Villademoros studied architecture and painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, but cinema was his true passion from the start. He trained in set decoration working with with Florián Rey and Sigfrido Burmann, and in 1951 he took on the role of art director of Día tras día, step one of a meteoric career that would put him in charge of the set designs of some productions of the Golden Age of Hollywood, such as El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire, 55 Days at Peking, King of Kings, the unforgettable Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, and the two that would give him the Oscar on two consecutive years: Patton (1970) and Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). Architecture comes to the fore in all, albeit only in papier mâché, proving what Juan Antonio Ramírez said: that movie sets can be architectural works in themselves.

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