Léon: The Professional

Brief Intro

“Léon: The Professional,” directed by Luc Besson, is a gripping action-drama that intertwines themes of revenge, innocence, and love. Released in 1994, it stars Jean Reno as Léon, a stoic hitman, and Natalie Portman in her breakthrough role as Mathilda, a young girl seeking revenge for her family’s murder. The film explores their unlikely bond and Léon’s transformation from a cold assassin to a protective guardian.

Literary Devices Used in Léon: The Professional

Movie SceneDevice Example
Mathilda’s first encounter with LéonSymbolism: Mathilda’s red dress symbolizes innocence lost.
Léon watering his plantSymbolism: The plant represents Léon’s solitary and nurturing nature.
Léon’s confrontation with StansfieldIrony: Léon, a killer, becomes the protector.
Mathilda’s conversation with Léon about loveIrony: A young girl educates a grown man about love.
Mathilda pleading with Léon to train herForeshadowing: Her persistence hints at her future involvement in violence.
Léon watching Gene Kelly’s dance numberForeshadowing: Indicates his longing for a simple, joyful life.
Mathilda’s family massacreImagery: Vivid depiction of brutality.
The climactic shootoutImagery: Chaotic and intense visuals emphasize the stakes.
Mathilda’s letter to LéonEpistolary: Reveals inner thoughts and emotions.
Léon’s final wordsEpistolary: His message to Mathilda conveys his paternal feelings.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


SymbolismLéon’s plant symbolizes his growth and nurturing side, contrasting his violent job.
IronyLéon, a professional killer, becomes a father figure to Mathilda, highlighting his hidden humanity.


ForeshadowingHer determination to learn from Léon foreshadows her involvement in the final conflict.
ImageryHer transformation from a vulnerable girl to a vengeful individual is vividly portrayed.


HyperboleStansfield’s exaggerated mannerisms and speech emphasize his unpredictability and madness.
IronyAs a law enforcement officer, his actions are ironically criminal and corrupt.

Character Dynamics

The relationship between Léon and Mathilda drives the narrative, as their bond evolves from a mere acquaintance to a deep familial connection. This dynamic is central to the film, with literary devices like symbolism (Léon’s plant) and irony (their reversed roles of protector and protected) enriching their relationship.

Thematic Analysis

Innocence and Corruption

SymbolismMathilda’s red dress symbolizes her lost innocence amidst the corruption around her.
IronyLéon, a symbol of corruption, becomes Mathilda’s source of protection and purity.

Love and Redemption

ForeshadowingMathilda’s plea to be trained hints at her seeking redemption through avenging her family.
EpistolaryMathilda’s letter to Léon showcases her emotional growth and the redemptive power of their relationship.

Survival and Identity

ImageryThe stark contrast between the bustling city and Léon’s quiet, isolated life highlights the theme of survival.
SymbolismLéon’s plant symbolizes his struggle for a peaceful identity amidst a violent world.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismVisual SymbolismThe recurring shots of Léon’s plant underscore his growth and nurturing nature.
ImageryCinematographyThe use of light and shadow creates a visual metaphor for the characters’ internal struggles.
IronySound DesignThe juxtaposition of classical music during violent scenes highlights the irony of beauty in brutality.
ForeshadowingEditingStrategic cuts and pacing foreshadow upcoming conflicts and character arcs.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection: Mathilda’s First Encounter with Léon

Link: YouTube – Mathilda Meets Léon


  • Literary Devices: Symbolism (Mathilda’s dress), Foreshadowing (her insistence on staying).
  • Cinematic Techniques: Close-ups emphasize the characters’ emotions; the soft lighting contrasts with the harsh reality Mathilda faces.
  • Impact: Establishes the central relationship and foreshadows their interdependent journey.

Scene Selection: The Climactic Shootout

Link: YouTube – Final Shootout


  • Literary Devices: Imagery (chaos of the battle), Irony (Léon’s sacrificial act).
  • Cinematic Techniques: Fast-paced editing, dynamic camera movements, and intense sound design heighten the tension.
  • Impact: Conveys the high stakes and the ultimate sacrifice, reinforcing the themes of love and redemption.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What does Léon’s plant symbolize?
    • A) His love for Mathilda
    • B) His growth and nurturing side
    • C) His past life
  2. Which device is used when Mathilda’s family is massacred?
  3. How does the film use irony with Stansfield’s character?
    • A) His love for classical music
    • B) His role as a corrupt law enforcement officer
    • C) His nurturing nature
  4. Which theme is highlighted by the bond between Léon and Mathilda?
    • A) Survival and identity
    • B) Innocence and corruption
    • C) Love and redemption


  1. B, 2. B, 3. B, 4. C