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Monsieur Mayonnaise (ATOM study guide)

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Monsieur Mayonnaise is an artist's epic adventure into his family's secret past. Australian artist and filmmaker Philippe Mora investigates his father's clandestine role in the French Resistance in World War Two and his mother's miraculous escape en route to Auschwitz.

Philippe, a Hollywood cult horror movie director and artist, adopts a film noir persona to tell his dramatic family story. He also packs his paints and easel, embarking on a journey to create an audacious comic book about his parents, their survival and the Holocaust.

Philippe's mother is Parisian-born Melbourne artist Mirka Mora. His late father Georges was a restauranteur, gallery owner and modern art pioneer. After the war, they settled in Australia and Philippe grew up in the epicentre of the 1950s Melbourne café-arts scene. His parents spoke French and loved mayonnaise. His father also hated all things German, but was enigmatic and mysterious about why.

As an adult, Philippe discovered that his father was born in Leipzig, Germany, worked for the French Resistance and was codenamed 'Monsieur Mayonnaise'. But he only uncovered part of the story. Now the block is ticking and Philippe wants to find out all he can about his father's wartime missions and intriguing alias, so he sets off from his home in West Hollywood to track down those who knew his father, before it's too late.

Philippe soon discovers that truth IS stranger than fiction as he uncovers the real story behind his father's mysterious codename, his work with legendary mime artist Marcel Marceau and their connection with nuns, Nazi border guards, baguettes and French mayonnaise. It's the stuff of wild fiction, or comic books! And in so doing, he learns much more about the father he loved so much, and misses terribly even today.

From LA to Berlin, Paris to Melbourne, Monsieur Mayonnaise is a richly layered road movie starring madcap artists, comic stories, real-life heroes, Nazi villains, and baguettes with lashings of tasty French mayonnaise!

Curriculum links

This ATOM study guide is mainly aimed at middle to senior secondary school levels, with relevance to studies of English, Modern European History, Media and Film Studies, and Visual Arts.

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