While spending a lazy Sunday afternoon scrolling through IMDB I came across this movie. At the time it only had a small summary with no trailer. In the coming months I kept a close eye on the page in anticipation for the trailer but also for a potential release date. I googled a release date many times which is where I came across the book the movie was to be based on, The Kaiser’s Last Kiss by Alan Judd. Strangely, the book was not available in digital or hard copy until January 2017 though it was previously released in 2003. I promptly pre-ordered a digital copy of the book and patiently waited a little under a year for the release.
The summary of the book was absolutely intoxicating. I cannot help being attracted to forbidden love/sex set during WWII. Any whiff of off limits romance in the summary, I’M IN. Mention Germans soldiers falling in love with the “enemies” and vica versa, I am doubly in.
“The story is set in 1940 and concerns the SS Lieutenant Martin Krebbs who is sent to the recently invaded Holland to guard/watch the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II. While living in the Kaiser’s home Krebbs falls in love with Akki, a jewish undercover British agent posing as a maid. After a visit from Heinrich Himmler, Krebbs begins to question things that he has been taught. When Akki’s identity is in danger of being exposed, Krebbs must choose between his duty to the Reich and his feelings for the woman he loves.”
Some of that intenseness I was feeling earlier diminished when I opened the book. I was immediately disappointed with the length of the book, at only 162 pages, I felt a story like this was deserving of more time. Historical fiction requires time, patience and a lot of love, though that is merely my opinion.
Ignoring the lack of pages, as I began reading I quickly realized that the writing is not great but neither is it horrible. The most distracting part was the way Judd transitioned from one paragraph to the next. It didn’t feel fluid so I wound up re-reading paragraphs as they transitioned into new ones. What should have been a quick one day read took several days.
Writing aside, I had a problem with the character of Krebbs as well. He does not seem to have the attitude of an SS officer let alone any attitude at all. His entire demeanor appears out of place but then again that would be a sad generalization of all German officers. I imagine that at least one SS officers harbored a soft spot for the people they were oppressing. I’ve always been a firm believer that there is truth behind myths and legends. I refuse to believe that there were no SS officers in history to have laid down their arms and betrayed their country for a woman.
Do the names Helena Citronova and Franz Wunsch ring a bell?
When the end approached I knew, deep down, I knew it had to end the way it did. My inner teenage girl so badly wanted it to end differently though. I wanted that happy ending for Krebbs and Akki. I like endings with closure and this one was left open ended. I imagine they both died during the war since this takes place early on in the war. The movie actually had a conclusive ending that left little to the imagination.
I think its important to note that names from the book were changed for the movie including the title. The movie took a line from the book and became The Exception. Akki became Mieke while Martin Krebbs became Captain Stephan Brandt.
Anyway, Mieke escapes to Holland unscathed while Brandt returns to Berlin. A book is delivered to him, a book that belonged to Mieke. Inside the book is a British address. The movie cuts to to Mieke… in Britain… pregnant!
For that reason alone I adored the movie much more than the book. I hate open ended endings. I want to know how these characters feel, where they are going, who they end up with, etc. I become emotionally invested in the characters – I need to know more. The story in the book needed more. More story. I craved more detail and answers. It left me wanting more.