Léon - the professional

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German title Léon - the professional
Original title Léon
Leon the Professional.png
Country of production France
original language English
Publishing year 1994
length Theatrical version: 105 minutes
Director's Cut: 127 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Luc Besson
script Luc Besson
production Patrice Ledoux
music Eric Serra
camera Thierry Arbogast
cut Sylvie Landra

Successor  →
Colombiana (film) (remake)

Léon - The Professional is a thriller - drama from the year 1994 by Luc Besson .

The focus of the film is the relationship between the twelve-year-old Mathilda and the hit man Léon, while a conflict comes to a head.


Léon is a hit man working for the Italo Mafia in New York . He does difficult jobs given to older, calculating Tony. So he switched promptly and reliably in a drug-trafficking rival gang from where he kills several criminals. But even for a contract killer like him there are rules that he understands as unwritten rules of his professional ethos : “No women, no children”. In his private life, Léon is a lonely person, without friends and family, with a sad past. His only "friend", apart from his father figure Tony, with whom he is more connected to business, is a potted plant, an aglaonema , which like him "has no roots".

Twelve-year-old Mathilda lives in the same house. She is mistreated by her father and hardly noticed by her family. When Mathilda's family is murdered by corrupt DEA police officers , Léon rescues them and hides them in his apartment. Mathilda swears vengeance on the murderers of her little brother and also wants to become a contract killer after she discovered Léon's gun case and learned about his activities. She suggests a deal to Léon: he should train her, she helps with the household and teaches the illiterate Léon to read and write. He reluctantly enters into the trade, because initially he sees a risk in Mathilda. He regards her as his pupil, whom he teaches how to handle weapons but not how to kill. Over time, the twelve-year-old develops feelings for her strangely immature mentor, but her advances are rejected by Léon.

Mathilda tries to kill Norman Stansfield, the drug addict head of the drug dealing DEA unit, on her own. That fails and she is arrested. Léon also took up the fight against the murderers of Mathilda's family when he executed Malky, Stansfield's second husband, in Chinatown with the words "no women, no children". Then he finds the news from Mathilda at home that she will now take revenge herself at the police station . He goes there, frees her and shoots two of the accomplices. The police start chasing Léon and Mathilda. Under pressure, Tony - who received many execution orders from the DEA group - reveals Léon's address, whereupon the police storm the house where Léon and Mathilda are staying. Léon enables Mathilda to escape through a narrow installation shaft and can even escape the overwhelming power of the police by putting on the combat suit of a killed police officer and being rescued from the apartment as a supposedly shot police officer. However, Stansfield has recognized him and follows him. When Léon tries to leave the building through the cellar, he shoots him in the back. Before Léon dies, he still has the strength to give him a present on behalf of Mathilda - the cotter pin of a hand grenade pulled from his belt. Stansfield is killed in the following explosion.

Mathilda goes to Tony, the agreed meeting point. Tony, who is still visibly marked by the interrogation by Stansfield and his people, informs her that Léon has put money aside with him for her. Mathilda offers Tony to work for him as a hit man because she was trained by Léon. Tony then gets angry and denies her this request; he insists that she start a normal life. Mathilda then returns to the Spencer School and is accepted there again. Then she plants Léon's "friend" in a meadow in front of the school and ends the film with the words: "We'll be fine here, Léon."



On the Rotten Tomatoes website , the film was able to convince 73 percent of the critics and even impressed 95 percent of the viewers positively.

"Sensitive staging, excellent editing, gripping story - a masterpiece."

- Thomas Schlömer : filmspiegel.de

"[Besson] moves as an action virtuoso , as an action purist on the level of Melville or Kubrick , cool to the heart, and yet he is an imperturbable last romantic [...]"

"Full of style, wit and self-confidence through and through, this film offers a breathtakingly fresh perspective on the Big Apple that only Besson could create, in one word: wonderful."

"Besson's authorship and direction have gotten better [...] with an American twist to it [...] And then there's Jean Reno, an actor too good to be true."

- Montreal Film Journal

“A furiously cut and atmospherically photographed gangster film, whose breathtaking staging style creates an almost absorbing tension. Unfortunately, the character drawing and the probability content do not keep pace with the technical preparation, so that the story ends up all too self-absorbed in an ambivalent, martial showdown. "

“Besson is not an action director. He is a violence director, probably the best in the business right now. He discomfits a lot of people because he is always on the dangerous edge of aestheticizing psychopathically murderous behavior. It's a subject we prefer to see treated cartoonishly [...] ”

“Besson is not an action director. He's a violence director, probably the best active one now. Walking such a fine line as embellishing psychopathic, murderous behavior can certainly worry some people. This is an object that we would rather see treated like a cartoon [...] "

- Richard Schickel : Time

“In his best film, Besson manages to tell a very unusual and sensitive relationship story within an exciting action story. He found simple and clear images for this. "

- Nana AT Rebhan : ARTE

"Conclusion: Besson's best: tough but warm."

Gross profit

The film grossed around $ 19.5 million worldwide.


The film was nominated for the César in 1995 in the categories of Best Film , Best Director and Best Actor , but received no award in the categories.



Natalie Portman , who was only eleven and a half years old at the time of the casting, prevailed against 2000 applicants for the role of Mathilda. She thought the script was great, so she really wanted the role. For her parents, however, the script was a shock, above all they complained that a twelve-year-old girl should smoke. They got Mathilda to quit smoking during the film.

The produced film in its various versions differs in part considerably from the first script written by Luc Besson. The original script draws a much tougher and sexually more revealing film with Mathilda one to two years her senior.

The film was released in a theatrical version and a director's cut version. The two main characters and their relationship to each other are described much more intensely in the Director's Cut. The number of scenes with subliminal sexual content is also higher. Many of these scenes were left out in the theatrical version, as initial public experience had shown that they lead to irritation. In the cinema version, for example, there is no mock execution by the twelve-year-old for educational purposes . Even the Director's Cut does not contain all the scenes, as the film originally lasted around 150 minutes. However, according to his own statement, Besson himself does not prefer either of the two versions.

First Robert De Niro was to play the lead role as Léon.

On September 30, 2019, the Director's Cut was shown for the first time in German cinemas in a restored 4K version as part of the 25th anniversary of Léon - The Professional . This restored version should also be available for home cinema at the end of the same year.

Most of the film's interior scenes were shot in France , with the remainder of the film shot on location in New York City . The last scene in the school was filmed at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey .


Role name actor Voice actor
Léon Jean Reno Joachim Kerzel
Mathilda Lando Natalie Portman Andrea Imme
Norman "Stan" Stansfield Gary Oldman Thomas Petruo
Tony Danny Aiello Friedrich G. Beckhaus
Malky Peter Appel Tilo Schmitz
Willie Blood Willie One Blood Nicolas Boell
Mr. Lando Michael Badalucco Frank-Otto Schenk
Marge Lando Ellen Greene Joseline Gassen
Mr. Jones Frank Senger Engelbert von Nordhausen


  • In the Director's Cut, Luc Besson has a cameo in the scene in which Léon Mathilda shows the "ring trick" as a resident (who can only be heard but not seen) who shoots a machine gun through the apartment door.
  • Likewise, Jean-Hugues Anglade a cameo in the Director's Cut. In the sequence in which Léon and Mathilda are shown breaking into various apartments, the actor is shown very briefly opening his apartment door. Jean-Hugues Anglade was one of the main characters in Besson's Nikita .
  • As Léon sits almost alone in a movie theater, he looks at the film predominantly cheerful (OT: It's Always Fair Weather ) of 1955, in which Gene Kelly rides on roller skates through the streets and the song I Like Myself sings.
  • The piece that can be heard in the credits when Mathilda puts Léon's plant into the ground is called Shape of My Heart by Sting , the text of which certainly has parallels to Léon's character.
  • In the French dubbing, Jean Reno speaks himself. The role of Mathilda is played by the then 15-year-old Ludivine Sagnier , for whom the film, as well as Natalie Portman , who she dubbed , was the start of her acting career.
  • In 2011 the director Olivier Megaton released the film Colombiana (film) , in which a young girl becomes a "cleaner" in order to get revenge on the death of her parents. The director himself admitted in an interview that he used Léon - The Professional as a basis. Ie Colombiana is a so-called remake in relation to Léon - Der Profi, and the only one at the moment. There are also other films that used "Léon" as inspiration or template, such as the following: Bichhoo , Montana (film) .
  • In 2010, a second part of Léon - The Professional was discussed, Natalie Portman volunteered for a follow-up film, only with one condition that the director Luc Besson should direct as in the first part. A sequel to Léon - The Professional has still not been made into a film. (As of 2020)


  • Thomas Ross, Maria Isabel Fontao: “No women, no kids” - a story of love and doom - Léon. In: Heidi Möller, Stephan Doering (eds.): Batman and other heavenly creatures - Another 30 film characters and their mental disorders. Springer Medizin Verlag, Heidelberg 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-12738-0 , pp. 225-238.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for Léon - The professional . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , August 2006 (PDF; test number: 72 461 V / DVD / UMD).
  2. ^ Léon: The Professional (1994). Retrieved July 15, 2020 .
  3. Thomas Schlömer: Léon - The professional. In: film mirror. Filmspiegel.de, accessed on April 24, 2008 .
  4. Urs Jenny : Rübezahl as terminator . In: Der Spiegel . No. 3 , 1995, p. 159–161 ( online January 16, 1995, accessed August 30, 2011).
  5. ^ Mark Salisbury: Léon (18). In: Empire . Retrieved August 5, 2008 : "Oozing style, wit and confidence from every sprocket, and offering a dizzyingly, fresh perspective on the Big Apple that only Besson could bring, this is, in a word, wonderful."
  6. ^ The Professional. In: Montreal Film Journal. Montreal Film Journal, accessed August 5, 2008 : "Besson's writing and directing skills improved over the years. […] There's an American edge to it […] Then you've got Jean Reno, an actor too good to be true. "
  7. Léon - The Professional. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  8. ^ Richard Schickel: Slice and Dice. In: Time . December 5, 1994, accessed August 5, 2008 .
  9. ^ Nana AT Rebhan: Léon - The professional. (No longer available online.) In: ARTE . August 26, 2005, archived from the original on January 12, 2009 ; Retrieved August 5, 2008 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.arte.tv
  10. Léon - The Professional: Directors Cut. In: Cinema . Retrieved October 10, 2009 .
  11. ^ Léon: The Professional. Retrieved July 11, 2020 .
  12. Léon - The Professional. In: IMDb . Retrieved March 5, 2013 .
  13. a b c d e f g h Léon: The Professional (1994) - IMDb. Retrieved on August 4, 2020 .
  14. Léon - The Professional. Schnittberichte.com, accessed August 30, 2011 .
  15. Dennis Meischen: A cult classic returns to the cinema with 20 extra minutes: German trailer for "Léon - The Professional". In: film starts . August 11, 2019, accessed September 3, 2019 .
  16. Léon - The Professional. In: synchronkartei.de. German synchronous file , accessed on March 5, 2013 .
  17. Continued as Killer-Lolita - Natalie Portman wants "Leon - der Profi 2" with Luc Besson. Retrieved on August 4, 2020 .