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In the penultimate scene of Léon: The Professional, Leon uses the line

You have given me a taste for life

to Mathilda, convincing her to escape through the ventilation system to meet up with him at Tony's after his own escape.

However, as we discover, it didn't seem that he planned on escaping due to the large amount of grenades attached to his body when he blows Stansfield up.

My question is, was this just a fail-safe if he should get caught by Stansfield and/or the DEA?

Or did Leon actually plan on escaping with Mathilda, running away with her and/or exacting revenge at a later date when he could get the jump on Stansfield?

Or did he just want his final act to be exacting revenge on Mathlida's behalf?

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For me, there's nothing unusual that Leon carries an enormous amount of guns/grenades, at least, it doesn't seem he planned kamikaze attack on Stansfield. He understood that he had a little chance to stay alive and see Mathilda again and that's why he gives his "farewell" –  default locale Oct 5 '12 at 6:33
    
It's been a while since I've seen it, but from what I remember Léon couldn't have predicted that Stansfield would walk by him and get suspicious. And if Léon had intended to kill Stansfield he would not have continued to walk away from him. –  Oliver_C Oct 8 '12 at 21:11
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I think it was just a fail safe. He is trying to escape, and does everything he can to avoid being recognized. When he reaches the tunnel and finally takes off his mask, you can see clear relief on his face. –  Phong Oct 11 '12 at 18:20

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

In an interesting analysis of the film (and Luc Besson's work in general) in her book Luc Besson (1998), Susan Hayward explains that when looking at the film's structure overall, the ending is not so much about a character's intentions as what makes sense for the story. Psychologically, when Mathilda is attracted to Leon as lover, she is transferring love for her brother and desire for the love of father she never had to Leon.

Leon plays father, son, and lover. But he assumes that latter role only when it is too late. Or, put another way, since the social order of things prohibits him from becoming Mathilda's lover, he gives up his body for her. He sacrifices the material body for the corporeal love that cannot be had. Equally significant, he pulls the plug (the pin of the hand grenade) on his life in exchange for that of Mathilda's. Having acknowledged his love for Mathilda, the only way that love can be sublimated is through death, that is, through a de-phallicising of the masculine body. This notion of the de-phallicised masculine body is in fact a trope of melodrama. The phallus is made safe so that the social order of things remains safe and so that the family does not come under threat...

Besson continues in his description of these two protagonists: "...Elle lui amene la vie. En acceptant, il accepte sa mort. Mourir pour donner la vie. Geometrique et cellulaire." (Roughly, She brings him life. In accepting it, he accepts death. He dies to give life. Geometric and cellular.)(p. 141-146)

You ask whether Leon intended to die, and we cannot know this this since Leon is only a construct of the storyteller. The storyteller intended that Leon should die and that Leon should accept this death, as repayment for life ("You have given me a taste for life") and love. He also tells her he wants a bed to sleep in and roots, and she gives him that by planting his peace lily. Geometric!

If you try to imagine a world where he survives, where would this relationship go? Besson did write a sequel to it, by the way, with Mathilda all grown up, but as he is no longer connected to the production company that filmed the original (and has rights to the sequel), it may never get made.

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The lost sequel sounds like what happened to Fifth Element. Great answer +1 indeed –  TylerShads Oct 15 '12 at 1:44

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