Monday, 18 January 2016
Leon (5 Stars)
"Leon" is a film I've watched many times, even though I've only watched it once in the last five years (as my blog readers can verify). I'm not sure why I ignored it for so long. That's the problem with having a large film collection like mine. When I want to pick a film I'm confronted with 1875 films on my shelves and it's easy to overlook something. 1875 isn't a random number. I keep an inventory of my films in an Excel spreadsheet, so that's the exact number of films that I own on Blu-ray and DVD, unless I've accidentally omitted something. I actually only have about 1100 films on my shelves. The rest, which I probably won't watch soon, are packed away in boxes. I emphasise the word "probably", because twice in the last year I've had to search my boxes for a film that wasn't on my shelves when I wanted to watch it.
As far as I can remember, I've only ever watched the Director's Cut of "Leon". That's the version I watched when I reviewed it in November. However, on reading up I discovered that it isn't a Director's Cut at all. The longer version, which my disc calls the Director's Cut, is the international version that was shown in France and most other countries. The shorter version, which my disc calls the theatrical version, is the American version.
The American version isn't actually censored. When the original version was shown to test audiences certain parts were criticised, so 25 minutes of footage was cut before the film went on general release. I viewed the short version today for the first time, and I watched carefully to spot the differences. Full lists of the differences are available on other sites, but I'll only name what was obviously missing to me when I watched it.
1. The scenes in which Mathilda expressed her love for Leon and attempted to seduce him are missing.
This was probably removed because it was offensive to American sensibilities. Throughout the film Leon is a very decent man who doesn't take advantage of the young girl. However, the scenes where Mathilda tries to embark on a romance are probably cutting it too close for prudish Americans who like to see perversion in everything. Europeans have no problems with scenes like this. If anything, it strengthens Leon's character, because we see how he resists her advances without the slightest hesitation.
2. The scenes in which Mathilda works as a hit-man in training are missing.
I'm not sure why the American test audiences didn't like this. Maybe they didn't like the idea of a young girl shooting people? Removing these scenes speeds up the film and makes it tighter, but at the cost of more character development.
Shall I watch the American version again? Probably not. The international version, i.e. the original version, is better.
Is this screenshot of Mathilda's older sister working out in front of the television relevant to the film? Not really, but I find Elizabeth Regen very attractive, so I thought it would be worth posting the picture.