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.


  1. She's certainly got better with age. Natalie Portman is a more natural beauty though (once she grew up!!)

    1. When you say she got better, do you mean her acting or her looks? I've never really thought of her as a great actress, even though she's won a few awards. I'm not saying she's a bad actress, I'm just saying she's never stood out.

      As for her looks, yes, she's pretty, but not really my type. I prefer Karoline Herfurth. Or Elizabeth Regen, who was 20 in the picture above.

  2. I think she is a great film star, and a competent actor in the right role. Unfortunately so many saw her struggle in the Star Wars trilogy she did.

    1. We have to agree to disagree on this. My favourite actress is Leelee Sobieski. Unfortunately she seems to have retired, or maybe she's just taking a break to look after her family. I can't think of any other actresses who even come close to her acting abilities. Not young actresses, at least. I like Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.

    2. Incidentally, Leelee wanted to be in "Star Wars", but was never auditioned. In Leelee's own words:

      "For Star Wars, I sent them this really bizarre photo with my hair high on top of my head, but they said, ‘We’re only seeing Asians and black girls.’ Then, all of a sudden it’s Natalie Portman. I was kind of annoyed".


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